Microsoft announced today that it will be launching a coalition called Connect Americans Now (CAN) to advocate for the FCC to eliminate regulatory hurdles that the group says are standing in the way of more widespread rural broadband deployment.

In addition to Microsoft, the coalition’s members include The App Association, a software trade organization, and the National Rural Education Association.

Specifically, CAN wants the FCC to “ensure that there is sufficient unlicensed low band spectrum in every market in the country to enable broadband connectivity.” Microsoft has endorsed the repurposing of TV white spaces spectrum — unoccupied TV channels — to deploy broadband in a cheaper way. According to CAN, 23.4 million out of the 34 million Americans who don’t have a broadband connection live in rural areas.


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The announcement was made in conjunction with the release of a report coauthored by Microsoft president Brad Smith and director of communications Carol Ann Browne on the top 10 tech issues for 2018. The report named technology for rural communities as one of the top issues.

“Historically American inventions often took root in smaller towns faster than in big cities,” Smith and Browne wrote. “But while many early technology innovations flourished quickly in rural America, today there are 23.4 million…

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