Microsoft Airband Initiative
Helping all communities thrive in a connected world
Internet access is a fundamental right.
The freedom to work, learn, and interact with the world requires access to the global network. Connectivity on its own, however, is not the end goal. It is a means to an end that becomes transformative when communities not only have access, but also the technology and solutions that enable safe and productive online experiences.
Closing the global digital divide
Approximately 2.7 billion people—roughly one third of the world’s population—do not have access to the internet. And most of this population lives in just 20 countries across Africa and low or middle-income countries in Asia, Oceania, Latin America, and the Caribbean. We are committed to work with our global ecosystem of partners to bring internet access to 250 million people in unserved and underserved communities around the world, including 100 million Africans, by the end of 2025.
Addressing digital equity in the US
Millions of people in both rural and urban communities lack access to affordable internet, affordable devices, or digital skills to participate in school, work, telehealth, and more. What has come to be known as the "digital divide" also disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minorities.
We convene a global network of internet and energy providers, government agencies, nonprofits, and private sector companies focused on closing the global digital divide. Together, we not only build the digital infrastructure required for internet access, but also provide access to digital skills training, devices, and digital solutions that enable people and communities to operate online safely and productively. By working with local and regional partners, we create economic opportunities tailored to the communities they serve.
Our first step is to facilitate the infrastructure required for internet and off-grid energy access. We bring together a global ecosystem of partners to develop solutions based on each community’s unique needs and environment.
Once the infrastructure is in place, we work with our partners and local organizations to deploy solutions and programs that transform communities by promoting safe, productive use of their new digital infrastructure, including digital skills training to help everyone thrive in a digital economy.
We scale impact by advocating for public policies, programs, and funding opportunities that enable communities to maximize the value of their connectivity.
Airband has helped more than 51 million people globally gain access to the internet and the economic and educational benefits that come with having affordable access. This includes over 4 million in the United States and 9 million people in Africa to date.
A combination of independent solar-powered microgrids, low-maintenance battery systems, water pumps, and internet access is increasing the resilience of isolated communities in Puerto Rico.
A multi-stakeholder partnership provides high-speed internet to previously unconnected communities and enables young people to reach their highest educational potential.
Access to high-speed internet means access to opportunity. Learn about AirJaldi's efforts to close the gender gap in India by providing opportunities to women.
BLUETOWN deploys last-mile technologies in Ghana to expand rural access to high-speed internet—and economic opportunity.
Learn how we are working with partners in Kenya to improve rural productivity and livelihood in communities that would otherwise not have access to these technological opportunities.
Leaders from Ferry County, WA and the Airband Initiative are leveraging innovative technology to increase high-speed internet access and shore up emergency response.
Cal.net specializes in bringing high speed internet to rural areas. By working with Microsoft and the FCC, they are giving the Central Valley, CA tools to thrive.
Virginia and Maryland
Declaration Networks provides high-speed internet connectivity to rural communities along the Eastern Shore of Virginia and in Garrett County, Maryland.
Identify areas of highest need in the US
Accurate mapping is essential to disburse broadband funds efficiently and maximize resources and investments in communities of highest need. This dashboard is intended to empower state agencies, nonprofits, and policymakers to identify regions within their state with significant digital equity gaps.
We work with internet service provider (ISP) partners that build and embrace multi-technology and multi-frequency solutions. Examples include fiber, TV White Spaces, frequency bands like CBRS, mid-band fixed wireless, Wi-Fi, millimeter waves, and low-earth and geo orbit satellites.
In the news
Learn more about the Microsoft Airband Initiative and explore the latest news and updates.
Bridging the digital equity gap
We must move quickly to extend broadband access while confronting challenges like skilling and affordability. It is up to all of us to build a legacy of connectivity for our communities – one that ensures that no one is left behind.
Addressing racial and digital inequity
Airband is expanding to US cities that face some of the largest broadband gaps among communities of color. Our approach focuses on providing access to affordable broadband, devices, and digital skilling tools and resources.
Eliminating the US rural broadband gap
Microsoft has developed a strategic approach that brings together private and public-sector organizations to help address the needs of millions of people who live in rural America and lack access to high-speed internet.
An essential component of the COVID-19 recovery
This opinion piece outlines a need for investment in innovative wireless technologies, public and private partnerships, and flexible financial models to close the broadband gap.
How high-speed internet is reshaping lives
In rural America, access to high-speed internet is fundamental in an increasingly digital and connected world
The path to prosperity through access to high-speed internet
Through partnerships, Microsoft is committed to closing the digital divide once and for all by connecting everyone in the world to high-speed internet.
An essential component of the COVID-19 recovery - Photo by: Prashanth Vishwanathan / CCAFS / CC BY-NC-SA