Microsoft awards grant to Skylark Wireless to expand internet access in rural West Virginia

The grant will help expand Skylark Wireless’ network, providing broadband in Mingo County

REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 1, 2018 — On Wednesday, Microsoft Corp. announced it selected Skylark Wireless as a winner of its third annual Airband Grant Fund, to help bring broadband internet access to rural communities. As one of the eight winners, Skylark Wireless is using innovative broadband solutions to extend broadband access to 10,000 households and businesses in Mingo County, West Virginia. The Airband Grant Fund is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which aims to help close the broadband access gap in rural America by 2022.

“Skylark Wireless is working to ensure the citizens of Mingo County have broadband access they need to connect and compete with their more urban neighbors,” said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft’s head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. “Their use of innovative technologies like TV white spaces will help close the broadband gap in West Virginia.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt said, “We know there is a huge potential for economic growth through our agriculture industries. Unfortunately, many of these small businesses struggle to reach their potential because of a lack of access to broadband. I commend Microsoft’s approach, which combines public-private partnerships with emerging technologies to connect West Virginia to the rest of the world and bring 21st century opportunities to our state.”

The Microsoft Airband Grant Fund seeks to spark innovation to overcome barriers to affordable internet access, through support of high-potential, early-stage startups creating innovative new technologies, services and business models. This year’s grantees receive cash investments, access to technology, mentoring and networking opportunities.

“Skylark Wireless is excited to be deploying its cutting-edge Massive MIMO platform in West Virginia,” said Clayton W. Shepard, founder and CTO, Skylark Wireless. “This next- generation wireless network will bring true high-speed affordable broadband internet to thousands of people who need it most, which wouldn’t have been possible without the Microsoft Airband Grant Fund.”

Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century. It is a necessity to start and grow a small business and take advantage of advances in agriculture, telemedicine and education. In the United States, more than 24 million Americans lack broadband access, including 19.4 million people living in rural areas.

Below is a list of this year’s Microsoft Airband Grant Fund recipients. More about the Microsoft Airband Grant Fund can be found here.

About Skylark Wireless

In rural West Virginia, Skylark Wireless is developing next-gen wireless solutions to connect underserved populations, focusing on long-range, high-speed connectivity including massive-MIMO and TV White Spaces.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, +1 (425) 638-7777,

[email protected]

Skylark Wireless, Ryan Guerra, founder and CEO, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at


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