Tech Talk

• Microsoft wants to extend broadband services to rural America by turning to a wireless technology that uses the buffer zones separating individual television channels in the airwaves.

Microsoft plans to partner with rural telecommunications providers in 12 states stretching from Washington to Maine to get about two million rural Americans connected to high-speed internet over the next five years.

It’s also calling for regulatory cooperation from the Federal Communications Commission and broader support from the public sector to expand rural broadband to the more than 20 million people who don’t have it.

Microsoft’s initiative, unveiled yesterday, comes as policy makers struggle to extend high-speed internet services to rural areas, which cable and phone companies have often shunned as cost prohibitive. Getting more people connected in rural areas has been a priority of President Donald Trump’s administration.

• A Middle Georgia school is helping train skilled workers for a high-demand and high-flying industry.

Students at Putnam County High School can become commercially licensed drone pilots through a new career pathway there.

The drone, or unmanned aircraft, industry is expected to have an economic impact of about $82 billion across the United States by 2025, according to a report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts that the number of commercially licensed drone pilots will increase from 20,000 in 2016 to as many 400,000 by 2021.

Putnam High’s drone programme was created last year through a partnership with Mercer University and Advanced Airspace Management, a company that provides aerial imaging services. Principal Marc Dastous said there are a few other drone programmes in the country, but he didn’t know of any others that involve collaboration with a business.

• Electric car maker Tesla is expanding its service operations and hiring more than 1,000 technicians to meet expected demand for its new Model 3 sedan.

The Model 3, cheaper than Tesla’s existing cars, goes on sale this month and is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of new customers to the brand.

To accommodate them, the company is adding 100 new service centres worldwide over the next year, bringing its total number of service centres to 250. The new service centres will be in areas that have the most reservation-holders for the Model 3.

Tesla also is adding 350 vans to its mobile service fleet, mostly in the U.S.

The vans go to owners’ homes or offices and repair their cars. The vans are equipped with tools and replacement parts as well as an espresso machine, snacks and kids’ toys.


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