REDMOND, Wash., April 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, Declaration Networks Group Inc. (DNG) and Microsoft Corp. announced a new agreement to deliver broadband internet access to approximately 65,000 people on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, including Accomack and Northampton Counties, and Garrett County, Maryland, over the next three years. This partnership is part of Microsoft's Rural Airband Initiative.
There are 19.4 million people living in rural America without broadband access, including nearly 30 percent of the people in rural Virginia and 6 percent of the people in rural Maryland. Under its NeuBeam™ brand, DNG delivers high-speed internet and voice services using a combination of advanced wireless technologies, including TV White Spaces. Microsoft and DNG aim to address the rural broadband gap for residents and businesses, allowing unserved regions to fully participate in the digital economy through access to technology and services that will enable farmers, healthcare professionals, educators, business leaders and others in the community.
"This partnership with Declaration Networks will help close the rural broadband gap for 65,000 people living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and in Garrett County, Maryland," said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft's head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. "Broadband is essential for agriculture, education, business and healthcare. Microsoft's Airband initiative is focused on bringing this necessity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022 and accelerating the national priority of closing the broadband gap."
"DNG and Microsoft share a commitment to establishing quality broadband solutions for rural America," said Bob Nichols, CEO of DNG. "Our partnership reflects a shared vision that focuses on an effective plan to align stakeholders, technology and resources for a sustainable path to address the digital divide."
Closing the rural broadband gap is strongly supported by Virginia and Maryland leaders:
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said, "As a native of the Eastern Shore, I am thrilled that Microsoft is taking action to bring new broadband connectivity to communities that need it. This new effort, in addition to ongoing efforts in state government, will help bridge the digital divide. Connecting rural communities will help create jobs, grow our economy and improve our quality of life. I am happy to celebrate this positive step forward as we work to make our commonwealth work better for all Virginians, no matter who you are or where you live."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said, "Reliable access to high-speed internet is critical for Maryland's small businesses, families and students to thrive in our 21st century economy. We are working diligently to eliminate the rural broadband gap and ensure that all Marylanders have the opportunity to access trusted, cost-effective broadband solutions."
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner said, "Millions of Americans, particularly in rural America, lack broadband access — a precondition to meaningful participation in the digital economy. That's millions of people unable to participate in e-commerce, enroll in online courses, receive tele-health services, and get on-demand services. It also means millions of people unable to hone programming skills, engage in telework, or modernize rural industries with broadband. Broadband access doesn't guarantee a community success, but not having it guarantees that companies aren't going to even consider you. I applaud efforts like these that seek to close the digital divide, including through innovative last-mile services."
U.S. Rep. John K. Delaney said, "As the only former CEO of a publicly traded company currently serving in Congress, I know how critical it is to position our businesses, workers and families to best compete in a global digital market. Closing the broadband gap is a critical piece of successful education, entrepreneurship and innovation, and I applaud DNG and Microsoft's investment in the communities of Garrett County."
U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor said, "We live in a digital age, where the internet is no longer considered a luxury but a necessary part of everyday life. The widespread lack of internet on the Eastern Shore and across rural Virginia makes these populations especially vulnerable by limiting their access to education, medicine and information services. Thanks to DNG and Microsoft, we can finally begin the process of expanding broadband networks throughout rural Virginia to equip residents, businesses and professionals with the tools needed to succeed in a 21st century economy."
In addition to commercial partnerships with local companies like Declaration, Microsoft's Rural Airband Initiative includes digital skills training for people in newly connected communities and access to royalty-free patents. Proceeds from Airband connectivity projects will be reinvested into the program to expand broadband to more rural areas.
About Declaration Networks Group
DNG successfully deploys and operates broadband local access solutions in underserved markets with a combination of advanced fiber and wireless to deliver high speed Internet and voice services to residential and business customers. DNG is a recognized leader in developing sustainable broadband eco-systems through cooperative local partnerships that leverage combined resources towards shared goals, to increase access to affordable, quality broadband service and allowing customers to "connect to what matters." For more information, please visit www.declarationnetworks.com and www.neubeam.com.
Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT" @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
SOURCE Microsoft Corp.