Microsoft Wants To Become Africa’s Internet Plug
For the past 2 years Microsoft’s (MSFT +0.42%) Airband initiative has been providing internet access to rural households in the U.S. and is now expanding internationally by focusing on Africa and Latin America.
- Microsoft plans to deliver internet access to remote communities in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa
- By using TV White Space they plan to connect 40M people to the internet by 2022
For the past 2 years Microsoft’s (MSFT +0.42%) Airband initiative has been providing internet access to rural households in the U.S. and is now expanding internationally by focusing on Africa and Latin America. The program is on track to connect more than 3 million people across the U.S. by July 2022, thanks to unused TV White Space. However, this could finally be the plug to get billions of people online in developing countries that don't have access to any sort of internet connectivity.
Why This Matters: Approximately half the world's population is now connected to the internet, though the majority of them reside in developed nations. As part of Microsoft’s international Airband efforts, they plan to connect 40 million people to the internet by 2022. The company is pushing regulators abroad for access to their TV White Space, which are wireless frequencies that can be repurposed to deliver internet access across a wide area of remote communities in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In Ghana, Microsoft worked to deregulate TV White Space technology so that one broadband provider could offer its services to nearly 800,000 people.
Microsoft noted that without internet access, especially at broadband speeds in these countries means that “existing inequalities, poverty and insecurity will persist, worsen and become increasingly difficult to address.” They have had some early success in countries like Ghana, where they worked to deregulate TV White Space technology so that one broadband provider could offer its services to nearly 800,000 people.
It’s not just developing countries that are in need of these types of innovative internet solutions. In high poverty rate cities like Flint, MI and Trenton, NJ up to 60% of households do not have access to wired broadband service. In the mostly black city of Detroit nearly 40% of households have no home internet service and more than 15% only access the internet through their mobile device.
Situational Awareness: Internet access has to be prioritized as an essential component of public infrastructure. Companies like Microsoft, Facebook (FB +2.31%) and Google (GOOG +0.56%) are helping to stymie the digital divide of today, that could become the international economic and employment divide of tomorrow. Ultimately, every new person they are able to connect to the internet has the possibility to turn into a paying customer.
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