Business & Economy

Microsoft asks to subsidize broadband, “the electricity of the 21st century”

By Marc Arcas

San Francisco, US, Jun 2 (EFE).- Microsoft president Brad Smith said that his company aims at closing the digital gap that exists in the United States, although he admitted it is not a one-company mission.

“Just as there is a federal program today to subsidize electricity, we should recognize that broadband is as we like to say the electricity of the 21st century. There will need to be a federal program to subsidize broadband,” he said during an interview with Efe.  

A key aspect of the digital breach is the differences in broadband internet access, which has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent transition to online working and schooling.

The company is trying to address “the very substantial broadband divide that exists in the United States,” he said.

“This is something that I think that the pandemic has shined a spotlight on, but it was here before the pandemic started.”

Over a third of the US population do not use broadband internet and only 55% utilize it in New York City, according to data compiled by Microsoft.

Unlike the rural areas, where the main problem is a lack of coverage, cities struggle with the high cost of both connection and devices, especially desktops and laptops.

“There are still 120 million people in America that do not currently use the internet at a broadband speed. That is a substantial share of the American population compared to 324 million people,” Smith said.

Eighty percent of white Americans make use of broadband internet, compared to 70% and 65% of Afro-American and Hispanic people respectively, the company’s data shows.

“More than a third of the Hispanic and Latinx people do not have broadband today,” he added.

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