COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Microsoft Corp. and an Ohio-based provider of telecommunications services have announced an agreement to extend broadband internet access to underserved rural areas of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois over the next three years.
The deal announced Tuesday between Microsoft and Lima-based Watch Communications aims to make reliable high-speed internet available to another 815,000 people, including 288,000 in Ohio.
It expands on similar agreements included in Microsoft's national Airband Initiative, such as a deal Microsoft struck last year with Canton-based Agile Networks to reach 110,000 unserved people in rural Ohio.
Microsoft's head of technology and corporate responsibility said extending broadband access in rural areas can provide opportunities in telehealth, education, small business development and digital agricultural technology.
Another tech giant, Facebook, launched a broadband initiative in neighboring West Virginia in March.
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