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Microsoft, Nextlink Partner on Rural High-Speed Internet

Microsoft and Nextlink have created a new partnership that will work on projects aimed at bringing high-speed broadband Internet access to parts of rural Oklahoma where residents often lack connectivity.

by Dan Denwalt, The Oklahoman / September 23, 2019
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 (TNS) — Microsoft and Nextlink will partner to bring high-speed broadband internet access to parts of rural Oklahoma.

Nextlink doesn't have a timetable for when service will be available or where it will be deployed, but a spokesman said the company will evaluate where Nextlink can place infrastructure using a combination of fixed wireless, TV white space and related technologies.

White space is the unused frequencies between television stations. The Federal Communications Commission has unlocked the spectrum for wireless providers outside of broadcast media. Using white space and fixed wireless networks are cheaper and easier to deploy than DSL, cable and satellite options.

The Microsoft-Nextlink agreement will include build-out in Oklahoma, along with Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. More than 29 million people in those states aren't using the internet at broadband speeds.

In Oklahoma alone, more than 800,000 people don't have access to broadband internet, according to the FCC. A recent report by the Kansas City Branch of the Federal Reserve showed Oklahoma ranks 47th in the country for high-speed internet connectivity, which is defined as at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds. Microsoft and Nextlink plans for its network to offer 25/3 Mbps service.

Governments are also trying to fix the problem, which requires massive amounts of costly infrastructure in far-flung parts of the state, something that's cost-prohibitive for many private companies.

The FCC has assigned nearly $114 million in support over the next 10 years to help wire rural Oklahoma.

©2019 The Oklahoman. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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