Microsoft helps bring broadband internet to rural tribal lands

It will expand internet access to about 73,500 people in Washington and Montana.

Microsoft announced today that it is partnering with Native Network to deliver broadband internet access to unserved rural communities in Washington and Montana. The effort will reach about 73,500 people living in and around the Flathead Reservation in Montana and the lands of Lummi Nation and Swinomish Tribe in Washington.

While rural areas around the United States suffer from a lack of broadband access, tribal lands, in particular, have remained unconnected. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 63 percent of Tribal land residents lack access to fixed broadband. That figure jumps to 85 percent in rural areas. By comparison, about 17 percent of the entire US population lacks broadband access -- through 40 percent of people in rural areas of Montana are without high-speed internet. Microsoft aims to address that by delivering broadband speeds via affordable, hybrid, fixed-wireless internet.

Microsoft's partnership with Native Network to expand broadband access is part of the company's Airband Initiative, which aims to deliver high-speed internet to two million people in rural America by July 4, 2022. Earlier this year, Microsoft launched a similar partnership with telecom company Agile Networks to bring broadband access to 110,000 people in rural Ohio.