Skip to main content

Microsoft enables free wireless internet for Virginia’s rural students

microsoft homework network homework01
Ximagination/123RF
Microsoft has launched a new “Homework Network,” offering wireless internet access to students in rural Virginia for the first time. Set to be made available to thousands of school-age children within Charlotte and Halifax counties, the wireless initiative makes use of free white space parts of the wireless spectrum, making it possible to offer the service for free.

White space is the designation of gaps in the the wireless spectrum which sit between existing broadcast bands. Often unused, the Homework Network leverages that space to extend existing wireless access from local schools to the wider communities. The technology uses a connection between base stations installed on towers or near fiber-connected schools, which link up with outdoor antennas attached to students’ homes.

Launched in collaboration between Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative and the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities group, the network is being installed by local service provider, B2X Online. It’s able to cover large geographic areas without much infrastructure, despite the hilly and forested local terrain.

So far 100 homes have been tested as part of a pilot scheme. Now the plan is to install it in a thousand homes by the end of the year. That should give around 3,000 students access to the high-speed wireless internet.

Microsoft stated that it hopes the FCC can allocate white space like this to local wireless internet initiatives across the country, but especially in rural communities where access to high-speed internet is far from common, if not impossible.

As it stands, some 5 million homes in the United States are said to be lacking fast internet access (as per MSPowerUser), which Microsoft and others claim leaves students behind when it comes to research and learning outside of school. That so-called “homework gap” is something it wants to close, to ensure that rural students have just as much access to information as those in more built up areas.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
How to choose an Ethernet cable
A hand holding a bunch of Ethernet cable on white background.

Choosing the right Ethernet cable for you isn't as straight forward as just buying the best Ethernet cable available and calling it a day. There are various generations of Ethernet cable to consider, as well as shielding, type, and form-factor, among a range of factors. To help, we’ve put together a guide that includes a table, glossary, and other buying tips that compare the benefits and issues of different Ethernet cables.

We'll help you find the perfect Ethernet cable for your home or office, so you get the best performance and features at the best price.
Tracking your internet speeds

Read more
MacBook Pro 16 vs. MacBook Pro 14: The important differences
MacBook Pro laptops.

MacBooks are typically seen as some of the best laptops money can buy, thanks to their combination of performance and longevity. It's not uncommon for MacBooks to be running flawlessly years after purchase -- so while their upfront costs are a bit steep, they're great long-term investments.

That holds true for the MacBook Pro lineup, which comes in two sizes -- 14 inches and 16 inches. Both are top-of-the-line computers designed to handle pretty much anything you can throw at them, offering access to the M3 chip, vibrant Liquid Retina XDR displays, and plenty of other high-end hardware.

Read more
Google Drive vs. Dropbox: which is best in 2024?
Google Drive in Chrome on a MacBook.

Google Drive and Dropbox are two of the most popular cloud storage providers, if not some of the best. They offer a range of exciting features, from secure file storage and transfer, to free storage, file syncing, extensions, chat-app integration, and more. But while they might go toe to toe on some cloud storage specifications, there are others where one is the clear winner. The question is, which one is the best in 2024?

Let's take a close look at Google Drive and Dropbox to see how their latest head to head turns out.
Google Drive wins the free storage battle
Both Dropbox and Google Drive offer free storage space for those who would like to try out their respective services before putting down a few dollars a month for something more expansive and permanent. Google Drive comes standard, with 15GB of free space, far more than Dropbox's initial free storage offering of just 2GB.

Read more