Posted by Pamela PassmanCorporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs
At Microsoft, we are committed to help tackle some of society’s biggest challenges. In the past decade, I’ve worked alongside many dedicated colleagues who are passionate about making a difference in public education, as Microsoft employees, community advocates and parents. We all want to help improve educational outcomes for children and provide teachers with the tools and support they need. We are always looking for new and creative ways to support teachers, students and parents in these efforts.
Microsoft has a long history of involvement in education, with national and community-based programs designed to empower teachers and inspire students, such as Partners in Learning, EduConnect and Imagine Cup, as well as our ongoing support for the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Posted by Dan ReedCorporate Vice President, Technology Strategy and Policy
A few weeks ago, Tim O’Reilly asked me if I would deliver a thought-provoking presentation on cognitive radio technologies and spectrum allocation policy at this year’s Gov 2.0 Summit. In this post, I’d like to share a few highlights of my speech and expand on some related topics.
Today, feature-rich smartphones and mobile computing devices and consumers’ seemingly insatiable appetites for text services, social networking and streaming media are placing unprecedented demands on wireless communication networks. YouTube reports that 24 hours of video is now uploaded to the social video site every 60 seconds, and Cisco projects that streaming video will increase wireless data transmission demands by 20X-40X over the next five years. If you have ever experienced a loss of wireless services in a densely populated area, you understand the problem we’re facing.
In response, cellular carriers are scrambling to build new cell towers and deploy 4G technologies. However, all of this cellular infrastructure investment centers on a very small fraction of the total radio spectrum, allocated via regulatory and auction processes that date back decades to a far simpler and slower moving telecommunications world.
Posted by Brad SmithSVP and General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation
In today’s Seattle Times, I wrote an op-ed calling upon Washington state to take new steps to improve education. While much of this responsibility falls on legislators and educators, it’s also important for businesses to play a role in supporting positive educational reforms. So, I’d like to describe what we are doing, at Microsoft, to support education at local, national and global levels.
Posted by Paula Boyd Regulatory Affairs Counsel
On Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took an important step in making innovative wireless broadband services, devices and applications available to consumers. The Commissioners are now in the process of finalizing policies that will allow the vacant channels in the television bands (the so-called “TV white spaces”) to be used for wireless broadband.
What are TV white spaces? In markets around the country, broadcasters use some—but not all—of the available channels to provide over-the-air television. Today, technology can make use of the unused channels, the TV white spaces, to provide wireless broadband connectivity while ensuring that there is no harmful interference to current users of the band. TV white spaces are particularly valuable since signals in this spectrum range are better able to penetrate walls and trees, and also to cover greater distances: two to three times further than the spectrum that is currently used for Wi-Fi. This means more reliable, higher-bandwidth wireless broadband connectivity and the potential to unleash exciting new user products and scenarios. It also has the potential to lower costs for consumers since the better range offered by white spaces enables a service provider to cover a greater service area with less equipment.
Posted by Pamela Passman Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs
Today we are announcing the latest expansion of our Elevate America program, which aims to provide people across the United States with the technology skills they need to find employment. The Elevate America community initiative will focus on partnering with nonprofits to support job training programs and initiatives in local communities across the country.
Elevate America was launched in February 2009 and since that time we have worked with 32 states and the District of Columbia to distribute over 800,000 training and certification vouchers. In March we announced the Elevate America Veterans initiative which is focusing on building a nationwide coalition to help U.S. veterans and their spouses transition from military to civilian employment. Through this work we have already learned a lot about the complexity of the unemployment issue and the importance of technology skills to those trying to enter or renter the workforce.
The consistent theme across all our Elevate America programs is the necessity for partnership to be at the very core of addressing what is a complex and difficult issue. We acknowledge that while we can bring resources and expertise to bear, ultimately, to be successful, we need the knowledge, reach and skills of partner organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Our Elevate America community initiative builds on a long standing commitment to working with nonprofits on the provision of technology skills training. Since 2003 we have worked in partnership with thousands of nonprofit organizations and reached more than 27 million people.
Today we are issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for nonprofits that have demonstrated expertise in providing employment services with a focus on technology skills training, job placement and related support to connect individuals to sustainable jobs and careers. Following the selection process we are committing $4 million in cash, $6 million worth of software and training curriculum to support the successful applicants over the next two years.