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Watch Communications, Microsoft Team Up For 49-County Broadband Expansion

By Brock Turner, IPB News | Published on in Community, Technology
The technology uses smaller antennas and less physical infrastructure, while covering longer, more geologically challenging terrain. (Courtsey: Microsoft)

Microsoft is behind a project to expand broadband access in nearly 50 Indiana counties—many in the northern and central portion of the state.

The project is a partnership with Ohio-based Watch Communications.

The expansion is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative that seeks to use TV whitespace to make it easier for people to access the internet.

It’s technology that taps waves previously used to translate analog TV signals and allows users to access the Internet.  Officials say it’s easier and can be implemented with less upfront costs than traditional fiber builds.

Microsoft says the Indiana project is part of a larger build that includes Ohio and Illinois.

Microsoft Technology and Corporate Responsibility general manager Shelley McKinley says the company sees the work as a public service.

“The reason it’s so important for Microsoft to be involved in this is that the broadband gap is too large,” she says. “We’ve been waiting for broadband for too long.”

The company says its prices will be comparable to other providers.

It’s unclear when all counties will receive service, but Watch—the provider in Indiana—says the first users should be online by the end of the year.

According to Microsoft and Watch, here are the Indiana counties included (not in alphabetical order):  Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Jay, Steuben, Noble, Wabash, Wells, Ripley, Union, Bartholomew, Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Fountain, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Howard, Madison, Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Tipton, White, Knox, Tippecanoe, Warren, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, St Joseph, Newton, Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Wayne