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VPNet, Microsoft announce $1M joint effort to deliver broadband to rural communities

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Puerto Rican company VPNet Inc., with support from Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, announced an agreement to make high-speed broadband internet available in rural areas of Puerto Rico, whose communities, organizations, and businesses have faced great challenges, particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The initiative entails a $1 million investment, officials confirmed.

The agreement will allow approximately 480,000 people residing in rural areas of 12 municipalities in the center and east of the island, to benefit from access to reliable internet service, which will allow them connectivity to study remotely, improve the efficiency of businesses and services of government agencies to citizens.

“Together with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative we have been working closely with municipalities and anchor institutions,” said Felipe J. Hernández, president of VPNet.

“Thanks to this effort, we will be able to provide service to underserved communities, which do not have adequate Internet to support critical applications, which in the context of this pandemic and on the way to a social and economic recovery are more necessary than ever,” he added.

Since 2007, VPNet has provided technology services to companies in the areas of telecommunications (internet and telephony solutions), cloud services, managed services, driven by its cybersecurity operations center, operated internally from its facilities in Cidra.

In fact, its location has given VPNet an advantage in providing technical support to companies, both large and small, in regions outside of the typical San Juan-Metro area, the executive said.

This initiative to help connect rural communities is part of VPNet’s residential internet services division, under the Red Verde brand, which is powered primarily by solar systems to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and provide a highly resilient network, designed to withstand natural disasters, such as hurricanes Irma and María, most recently the earthquakes that affected the island.

The expansion of Red Verde’s services to these underserved rural regions will strengthen Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, allowing for better preparedness for emergency situations, he added.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Airband Initiative program aims to make high-speed Internet more available and affordable for millions of people around the world by investing in new technologies and supporting local efforts to expand internet access.

As Hernández explained, many telecommunications providers generally do not extend services to low-density communities. However, Red Verde is in a unique position to connect these traditionally hard-to-reach areas.

With a system built on a stable fixed wireless network, Red Verde, with the support of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, is rapidly deploying its services in the South, East and Central regions of Puerto Rico.

“VPNet and Microsoft share a commitment to providing broadband to communities that lack adequate access,” said Vickie Robinson, general manager of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative. “Connectivity based on durable infrastructure is critical for those still rebuilding after natural disasters or the wrong side of the digital divide during the pandemic.”

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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