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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Microsoft last summer promised to partner with small, rural ISPs to make broadband available to 2 million people who don’t have access.

Background: The program, known as Airband, would use a mix of technologies, including vacant broadcast airwaves called TV White Spaces, to cobble together connectivity. 

Today, Microsoft’s Brad Smith is in D.C. to announce the company is raising its goal to reach 3 million rural Americans by 2022.

  • “Closing the broadband gap will require a focused and comprehensive solution that combines private sector capital investment in innovative technologies with targeted financial and regulatory support from the public sector,” Smith writes in a blog post this morning.

Beyond building out connectivity, the consumer devices necessary to tap into the broadband networks also must be affordable.

  • Smith says that 18 months ago TV white spaces connectivity devices cost more than $800. Today, they cost less than $300. As prices continue to fall and demand increases, “the market will become self-sustaining," he adds.

Be smart: Microsoft’s Airband plan still needs a green light from the FCC to make use of all the unlicensed white spaces airwaves it needs to realize its goal.

  • And if broadcasters continue to raise concerns — they worry opening up those frequencies will cause interference to their TV broadcasts on adjacent frequencies — the FCC’s decision could take a while. 

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
3 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. 

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.