Community Idea Stations - Microsoft is announcing a new effort to connect more people to the Internet. Not people far away, in the so-called emerging markets - where other American tech giants have built Internet balloons and drones. Instead, Microsoft is focusing right here at home, on the 23.4 million people in rural America without broadband access.
Under Trump, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is in a high-profile fight with the tech sector over net neutrality and the open Internet. Smith says he's talked with members of the FCC about the rural initiative and, "while one should always hesitate to be optimistic about anything in our nation's capital these days, I do think that there is a cause for optimism around this."
Seth McKee, associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, has written about the concerns of rural Americans. He calls the move by Microsoft extremely savvy. "Trump on the campaign trail used rhetoric to speak and resonate with those voters, in these sort of left-behind economies as we talk about them. But has there been anything beyond rhetoric since he's gotten into office? Not that I'm aware of," McKee says.