Microsoft has signed a deal with Quad Cities to improve the broadband internet services in the rural areas in a few states including Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota. Besides, Microsoft and Network Business Systems are also working together to bring internet access to the residents in 3 counties including Scoot, Muscatine and Clinton. David Peters who holds a position as an associate professor in Iowa State University says the area where Microsoft plans to expand the internet service are not rural.
The city Davenport is located in metropolitan Scott County. Muscatine and Clinton are micropolitan counties with population ranging from 10K – 50K. However, Muscatine and Clinton are not modernized and has been reduced to more of a rural area. Peters said that experts remarked internet access is the key to modernized a rural area during the 1990s – 2000s. However, no action has been taken to bring internet access to rural America.
Peters told the press that if he has money to invest in building internet broadband infrastructure in the rural Iowa, he would choose the northwest or north central region. This is because these two regions are losing population fast. The people are moving to the city because it is not convenient for them to access internet in the rural area.
Peters said that he don’t know if it is wise to make such an investment. However, he suggests investors to install the internet infrastructure if they are interested in improving rural Iowa. Microsoft believe that there is a lack of internet broadband access for rural residents in urban counties.
The data of Federal Communications Commission shows that internet broadband amenities is not available to more than 60% of residents in Muscatine County. Clinton County and Scott County are much better than Muscatine County. It is estimated up to 71% of residents in Clinton County have access to broadband.
In Scott County, 80% of its residents have internet access. The FCC data shows a comparison of 98% urban Iowans that have internet access compared to only 77.4% rural Iowans having internet access. Broadband is defined as an internet access with minimum download speed of 25 mbps and a minimum upload speed of 3 mbps.
The goal of Microsoft is to help in providing internet access to the rural communities and to turn them into buyers of Microsoft products one day. Network Business Systems did not want to accept Microsoft funding offer. They will only get help in the form of technical support from Microsoft.
Network Business Systems owns 120 towers and each tower has the ability to transmit up to 7 miles range. They specialize in working with farms, businesses and private residential homes in rural regions to provide internet access. The technology Network Business Systems allows them to provide fast internet at a lower cost.
Doing so help them to avoid installing fiber optic wire to provide internet connection to the rural area. Kari Hoffman, the general manager of Network Business Systems, said that getting technical help from Microsoft may help them to get more customers as not many are aware of the technology.