The tech industry’s largest purveyors of software typically desire the highest possible number of customers. This remains one of the reasons Google, Facebook, and Microsoft tend to support Net Neutrality and various rural broadband projects. In fact, Google Fiber is only one of the search giant’s initiatives for boosting Internet access.


The CAN logo. Image copyright CAN.

For its own part, Microsoft kicked off 2018 by announcing a new group aimed at boosting Internet access in the rural hinterlands. Called “Connect Americans Now (CAN),” this advocacy group hopes to bridge the digital divide in the underserved parts of the country. News about the new group appeared this week at VentureBeat.

Breaking Down Barriers limiting Rural Internet Access

Besides Microsoft, CAN’s members include a mixture of software industry firms along with other national advocacy groups, like the National Rural Education Association. Various regional associations from across the country are also part of the team.

The goal of CAN simply states a desire to “engage policymakers in a meaningful dialogue on the most effective ways to ensure that all American communities – not just those tied to metropolitan areas – can benefit from high-speed broadband coverage.”

Simple statistics reveal the scope of the broadband access issue in the country. According to data presented by CAN, 34 million Americans lack a reliable and affordable broadband Internet service. Over 23 million of that group currently live in rural areas.

CAN’s Plan for improving Rural Internet Access

The CAN plan for expanding broadband access in the rural regions of the country includes multiple technical initiatives. They hope to leverage the white space spectrum formerly used by over the air television. This approach is combined with improving wireless access, additional fixed wireless LTE services, and satellite coverage.

CAN feels offering this multi-faceted approach helps to lower the overall cost of the Internet service expansion. Obviously, the economic benefits to these regions are numerous. They include everything from improved educational opportunities for children to small businesses being able to expand their customer base.

Communities are also better able to attract new industries – and their high-paying jobs – when providing high-speed Internet service. In short, CAN hopes to ensure the digital divide no longer keeps one part of the country behind the rest.

Microsoft expects to provide personnel and capital expenditures to help bootstrap the effort. Additionally, any profits the company earns from CAN are expected to be reinvested into the network. Stay tuned to Bandwidth Place as we continue to cover CAN’s progress on their goal of championing rural broadband.