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Big Butter, Big Tech Partner to Build Wi-Fi Access Map

Land O'Lakes and Microsoft joined forces over the summer to address, among other issues, the rural broadband gap. The two organizations, along with other partners, just released a Wi-Fi access point map.

Wi-Fi Signal - Flickr/mista stagga lee
Agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes has released a map that can help citizens find more than 2,300 free Wi-Fi spots in 49 states. 

The map is part of the company’s American Connection Project. The tool shows Wi-Fi locations from Land O’ Lakes as well as those from other organizations such as 4-H, Kentucky Farm Bureau and Tractor Supply Company. 

“The launch of the American Connection Project map marks an important milestone in our effort to bring critical services to disconnected communities across America — and a resource for individuals to find broadband access when they truly need it,” said Tina May, vice president of rural services at Land O’Lakes, in a statement. “We are enormously grateful for the ongoing commitment of our partners in banding together to advocate on behalf of rural communities throughout a difficult time across our country.”

The map is also part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative. In addition to testing potential rural broadband solutions like white space technology, Microsoft entered into a multiyear partnership with Land O’Lakes to “pioneer new innovations in agriculture and enhance the supply chain, expand sustainability practices for farmers and the food system, and close the rural broadband gap,” according to a July press release

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve worked with our partners to keep people connected by bringing free public Wi-Fi hot spots to communities around the country — vital links to the Internet during a difficult time” said Shelley McKinley, vice president of technology and corporate responsibility at Microsoft. “This map is an excellent summation of that work, and we are grateful for the partnership of so many organizations who are working to bridge the broadband gap.”

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.