Microsoft will help expand rural broadband in Ohio

More than 900,000 people could benefit overall.

Tens of millions of Americans, especially in rural areas, still don't have access to broadband internet. As part of its five-year plan to help close that gap, Microsoft is partnering with telecoms company Agile Networks to roll out broadband access to 110,000 people in rural Ohio. The companies will also expand access in underserved areas over the next four years, and say that more than 900,000 people could benefit overall.

The plan is to use Agile's existing infrastructure and embrace tech such as "super WiFi," which uses parts of the TV spectrum left empty by the switch from analog to digital transmissions. Clinics, hospitals, schools and businesses should all receive a boost from the rollout.

Through its Airband Initiative, Microsoft aims to bring broadband internet access to 2 million Americans in rural locations by 2022. It's investing in local telecoms companies, and providing knowledge and patent access to help them build out necessary infrastructure. Microsoft will also reinvest proceeds from various projects back into the program to expand access elsewhere.