Internet in KenyaLoon, a company division of Google, is using balloons to provide internet in Kenya. The Kenyan government is collaborating with Loon to provide more substantial 4G coverage since many areas of Kenya have poor service. In the future, Loon hopes to expand to other areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. Loon is hoping to expedite the process of sending balloons to Kenya because of the increased demand for information during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Importance of Internet Access

UNESCO estimates that 45% of households worldwide do not have internet access. In Africa, 72% of people are unable to use the internet because companies do not see the need to travel to remote locations with less robust populations. Loon is looking to change these statistics by focusing its services in remote areas so people can use apps to communicate with each other.

Internet services help empower people in poverty by offering opportunities for education. Many students in rural areas do not have schools near them, so students rely on quality education through the internet. The Kenya Education Network (KENET) works to bring internet and laptops to various schools in Kenya. KENET has already invested $2 million in supplying free high-speed internet. The internet has become an essential need for educational purposes; Loon’s work will elevate people’s access to these important services.

Are Balloons Reliable To Provide Internet Access?

Loon used its balloons in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed the cellular towers. The balloons were deployed to provide immediate internet access for people on the island. Before the official launch, Loon tested out 35 balloons, which led to 35 thousand people being able to access the internet in rural Kenya.

Now that Loon is working to send out more balloons, the company is hoping to cover 31 thousand miles. The balloons are effective for providing internet coverage because they work like normal cell towers. The signal is transmitted for 100 days by software controlled from the ground.

The Future of Reliable Internet In Kenya

Loon expects to deploy more balloons in the future through a partnership with Telkom Kenya. Kenya is one of the leading technological countries in Africa. From 2019 to 2020, an increase of 3.2 million people accessed the internet in Kenya.

One of the barriers for people in poverty in accessing the internet is high-cost data plans. Kenya has higher data prices than other surrounding countries. An unlimited data plan in Nigeria can cost around $26, but the same plan in Kenya allows for only 50GB of data. In Kenya, 36.1% of people live below the poverty line, so many Kenyans do not make more than $1 each day. Cellular data plans are still unobtainable for some of the population.

While the Kenyan government is looking to provide a better signal to rural areas, residents may not have the money to pay for cellular services. Access to more service areas through Loon and cheaper data prices through Telkom Kenya could help increase people’s connectivity.

Sarah Litchney
Photo: Pixabay

diminish global poverty
Self-driving cars and trips to Mars might be the first things that come to mind when thinking of Elon Musk. His massive-scale innovations will help humanity as a whole, but Musk’s initiatives are also helping to diminish global poverty. Since he was in college, Musk has sought to help humanity through space exploration, global internet and energy efficiency. The mission of Tesla, which Musk founded in 2003, is to accelerate the world of sustainable energy for the good of humanity and the planet. This mission will also have numerous benefits to the poor and overlooked populations of the world.

Tesla Powered Water Plants

In the coastal village of Kiunga, Kenya, water is available but contaminated. With most water sourced from saltwater wells, communities must bathe and cook with saltwater. Washing clothes and bodies with saltwater leads to painful sores that are hard to heal. On the other hand, drinking and cooking with saltwater leads to health problems like chronic diarrhea or kidney failure. These complications inhibit a healthy and productive society.

Tesla and GivePower offered a solution to Kiunga’s lack of potable water: a desalination plant that solar power and a battery reserve power. GivePower is a nonprofit organization aiming to provide resources to developing countries; it was acquired by Tesla Motors in 2016. A solar water farm that Tesla Powerwalls facilitated stores energy from solar panels to fuel the Kiunga facility at night and when there is a lack of sunshine. This plant produces about 70,000 liters of clean water every 24 hours, giving clean water to 35,000 people daily. This project has improved Kenyans’ lives, and GivePower aims to reach Colombia and Haiti next.

Tesla Powered Micro-grids

In many regions, people take electricity for granted. In Africa, hundreds of millions live without it. According to the International Energy Agency, 55% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lack basic electricity access. Energy is essential to power schools, homes and healthcare facilities. A lack of modern energy in developing countries hinders the ability to study, work and modernize. For instance, in Zimbabwe, widespread violence and poverty contribute to a declining economy. One beacon of hope is the money trade, which takes place almost completely electronically. An innovative mobile payment system called Ecocash facilitates financial transactions for customers with mobile phones. To be effective, this process relies on consistent power infrastructure.

One incident in July 2019 exposed the vulnerability of Zimbabwe and its markets. A power outage occurred, and Zimbabwe’s Econet generators failed to power up, resulting in a mobile money blackout. This consequently had detrimental effects on the country’s economy, as the majority of financial systems halted. Over 5 million transactions occur daily through mobile money markets, adding up to around $200 million. Interruptions to power cause Zimbabweans to lose millions of dollars.

Microgrids are the answer. Generated by Powerwalls from Tesla, these self-contained systems of solar panels and batteries can provide power across the globe. Above all, no community is too remote to benefit. Tesla’s Powerwalls will alleviate uncertainties that unfavorable weather, unstable prices and fuel shortages cause. Although they require an investment of $6,500, solar-powered batteries replace archaic diesel-powered generators to ensure stability and diminish global poverty.

StarLink: High-Speed Internet Access Across the World

A lack of internet and mobile applications make life harder in developing countries. Without educational, communication and health tools, the cycle of poverty cannot be broken. According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, an estimated 750 million people over the age of 15 cannot read or write. Access to educational tools and resources through the global internet can reduce drop-out rates and improve education levels.

Elon Musk’s StarLink internet would deliver high-quality broadband all over the globe, reaching communities that historically lack an internet connection. The internet can bring education, telemedicine, communication and truth to people oppressed in developing countries. It gives isolated and overlooked communities a chance to become more secure. Using Starlink is straightforward: Plug in the device and point it toward the sky. The costs and benefits of Starlink can be shared across multiple families. The Starlink project strives to place a total of 42,000 satellites in space by the end of 2021, enabling internet access and helping to diminish global poverty.

A Sustainable Future for All

Musk’s focus on energy technologies benefits everyone, including the world’s poor. One obstacle to ending global poverty, especially in extreme cases, is that the poorest populations are usually the most remotely located. However, with Musk’s innovations, even remote rural communities can advance with modern technology.

Tara Hudson
Photo: Pixabay

Internet Connectivity in Cuba
Cuba has long experienced poor levels of internet connectivity and high rates of media censorship. Cuba ranks 125th out of 166 countries with regard to telecommunications infrastructure. Prior to 2012, the country relied on Russian satellites for its internet. The nation sponsors a single main telecommunications corporation, ETECSA, which gives the state full control over internet services and its pricing.

However, within the past decade, Cuba has worked to expand internet connectivity across the island. Both the government and private multinational corporations are working to expand access, increase internet speed, heighten connectivity and lower internet prices for all Cubans.

The following are major innovations to telecommunications and internet connectivity in Cuba:

  • Increasing household access to high-speed internet services and routers
  • Expanding cellular coverage and connectivity of mobile phones
  • Lowering the cost of internet connectivity

Increasing Access

Reports show that more than 5 million Cubans, which equates to about 80,000 households, currently have access to the internet out of a population of over 11 million. This marks a dramatic level of development across the country since the arrival of Wi-Fi in 2013. This change comes primarily as a result of many private and public enterprises aimed at providing faster and more comprehensive internet services to Cubans.

One private multinational company working to improve telecommunications infrastructure is Google. As of 2019, Google began negotiations with ETECSA to establish a cost-free direct connection between their two networks. This involves establishing Google sponsored servers on the island that would dramatically speed up internet services for Cubans. This would be a remarkable partnership considering Cuba’s historic antagonism towards the internet and American companies.

Expanding Connectivity

The government has also developed new strategies to increase internet connectivity in Cuba for its citizens. As of July 2019, the government has allowed Cubans to import routers and create private Wi-Fi networks that can connect to ETECSA from any household. This is a departure from the previous situation where Cubans could only connect to the internet from clearly defined public hotspots.

Since December 2018, mobile phones have also gained 3G connectivity. Reports determine that 2.5 million Cubans currently have 3G connectivity, allowing them to connect to ETECSA from household hotspots as a result of newly acquired private routers. This has further improved levels of communication and interconnectedness across the island since 2018.

Lowering Cost

With the aim to expand the breadth of internet connectivity in Cuba, ETECSA plans to open 1,400 new hotspots across the country, in addition to lowering the price of connecting to the internet to $1 per hour from $4 per hour in 2015. This expansion of hotspots, paired with the individual possession of routers and 3G phones, will widen the reach of broadband internet exponentially. The lower cost of connecting, however, is still exorbitant when the average income per month in Cuba stands at only $50.

Political Ramifications

With the rise of internet connectivity comes increased communication, organization and debate among citizens. One central debate raging since the introduction of the internet is the unaffordable price of connectivity. The cost of connecting to the internet is extremely high for the widely low-income population. This results in internet services being more readily available to the upper classes and systemically prevents poorer Cubans from reaping the benefits of connectivity, despite the cost of connection per hour standing at $1 down from $4 in 2015.

Regarding internet connectivity, only a small percent of the population actually has access to the entire global internet, with the vast majority only being able to access the national internet, which the state monitors, censors and regulates heavily. Cuban officials had previously disregarded the internet as an American tool used for “ideological penetration by the enemy,” but many top officials have reversed course within the last decade and have begun hesitantly sponsoring initiatives to expand internet access. Despite this infrastructure expansion, the central government continues to be the sole provider of internet services and censors dissenting websites or users. This censorship has caused tension as increased access to the internet has given rise to multiple independent online news publications presented as alternatives to and watchdogs over the state-sponsored media.

Now independent voices have a platform on which to present and defend their dissenting opinions of the central government. These citizens and journalists share the views and opinions of the economically disenfranchised and critique the governing authorities.

Conclusion

Within the last decade, Cuba witnessed extreme developments in internet and telecommunications infrastructure relating to increased access, greater connectivity and lower costs of connecting. The country has developed initiatives of its own to foster growth and connectivity, partnering with private corporations to aid with this endeavor. Internet connectivity in Cuba is critical to helping the poor, increasing economic and social development and keeping the country competitive on the world stage. This surge in connectivity comes at the hesitant approval of the central government, which continues to censor and filter national media outlets. Dissenting opinions and alternative media have developed within this new technological arena, laying the foundation for future political and social changes.

Ian Hawthorne
Photo: Flickr

Quingyuan's Agricultural Sector
With the ability to connect people faster than ever, 5G has transformed Quingyuan’s agricultural sector from an impoverished community to a thriving online agricultural production center in less than a year.

How can 5G Alleviate Poverty?

5G is better than 4G for three main reasons: higher bandwidth, lower latency (lag time) and much faster speeds. The implications of 5G are endless for these reasons. Specifically, 5G can alleviate poverty by driving economic growth. The Imperial College of London found that a 10% increase of mobile broadband, or more commonly known as wireless internet access, is associated with a 0.6-2.8% increase in economic growth.

Installation of 5G in Quingyuan

Quingyuan is home to over 3 million people. It is a city located in northern Guangdong, a coastal province in South China. Quingyuan became China’s first administrative village to be covered by 5G networks, two months ahead of schedule. Citizens in Quingyuan began using 5G last fall with the installation of two 5G base stations.

Guangdong’s Goals for 5G

According to the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Department of Guangdong Province, Guangdong will use 5G to further assist the country’s rural revitalization strategy. The overall goal of the rural revitalization strategy is to provide rural areas with the necessary tools so the citizens can have pleasant living conditions, thriving businesses and prosperity. Guangdong plans to focus on building both a 5G smart agricultural pilot zone and, ultimately, a 5G agricultural industrial cluster. 5G would allow farmers to utilize technology to monitor their crops and host webcasts to sell them.

Intelligent Agriculture

In the Lianyi village of Quingyuan, farmers are using an intelligent agricultural base to increase labor input while alleviating poverty. The intelligent agricultural base is a targeted poverty reduction project from Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. There are 10 planting areas in the agricultural base, which covers an area of more than 16 acres. The agricultural base uses advanced technology to manage and monitor the crops, which increases the traceability of agricultural products. The system has irrigation pipes and a weather station to monitor the environment as well.

After the execution of the project, the land rental income of villagers increased by around $6,298. The working income of poor households and villagers also saw an increase of about $57,109 after the implementation of the project.

Webcasts

Another way 5G has transformed Quingyuan’s agricultural sector is allowing farmers to host live-streaming promotions, which substantially increase the number of customers that local farmers can reach. Lu Feihong, secretary of the Party branch of the Lianzhang village in Quingyuan, noted that “5G not only facilitates access to the Internet, but also establishes good conditions for [farmers] to develop smart agriculture and e-agricultural businesses through live streaming promotions.”

According to Feihong, watermelon farmers sold their entire harvest, totaling more than 55,000 lb, in May 2020. A yam farmer experienced a similar situation when he was able to sell his entire harvest of 16,000 lb worth of Chinese yams after an online webcast that attracted more than 400,000 viewers.

5G transformed Quingyuan’s agricultural sector and helped farmers in the city maintain, and even increase, their incomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Araceli Mercer
Photo: Flickr

5G Internet Could Reduce Poverty
With the “fourth industrial revolution” underway as technology rapidly advances and changes the global outlook, fifth-generation (5G) internet has proved to be a breakthrough that could potentially pull millions out of poverty. One can characterize 5G internet by its high speed, high capacity and low latency with a bandwidth almost 10 times more than fourth-generation (4G) internet. Peak download speeds for 5G internet are around 20 gigabits per second, allowing users to download full movies, videos, advanced Internet of Things (IoT) software or artificial intelligence (AI) in minutes. 5G internet could reduce poverty significantly if countries implement the correct infrastructure for it.

Many countries have already begun building 5G networks. According to a report by Cisco, at the end of 2019, 26 countries were commercially selling 5G programs, 14 of which were developing countries. Countries with high rates of poverty could especially benefit from 5G internet as it would provide a stable internet connection and allow them to access a wealth of online resources. Below are seven ways 5G internet could reduce poverty.

7 Ways 5G Internet Could Reduce Poverty

  1. 5G internet could further advance the Sustainable Development Goals set for completion by 2030, especially surrounding “inclusive and equitable” education for all. The communities that live in rural locations most commonly face difficulties accessing educational resources. According to the World Economic Forum, construction of a school would have to happen every hour for 11 years in order to ensure enough schools for all of the children living in sub-Saharan Africa. 5G internet could connect those in unreachable locations to online teaching resources and remote learning opportunities. The speed of 5G internet could allow students to tune in live to classrooms globally.
  2. Healthcare, which has lagged far behind in many developing countries, could see massive reforms as part of 5G internet access. New AI and IoT devices could revolutionize the industry. New surgeons in training can wear haptic gloves that track hand movement to send to professionals across the globe so they can correct and mentor them. Virtual reality and 3D imaging allow medical professionals to aid in surgeries in rural areas. AI could even enable remote surgeries or checkups.
  3. Compared to 4G networks, 5G can reduce energy consumption by 50% to 95%, said the European Investment Bank. Energy poverty is already a prevalent issue, which is a lack of access to energy as a result of its high cost. Reducing energy usage further would allow 5G to be more affordable and sustainable.
  4. The internet has already allowed massive globalization to take place which has expanded global output by millions of dollars. 5G will continue this revolution – by 2035, IHS economics and technology has determined that 5G internet will enable $12.3 trillion in global economic output. In addition, it should allow the creation of 22 million jobs, meaning a vast new market could open up for employment in all countries.
  5. With new AI and IoT devices monitoring factors, such as rainfall, water content, nutrients in the soil, ground temperature and more, 5G internet should encourage the rise of “smart” agriculture. This technological push to increase farmer efficiency has already begun but faster data speeds and larger bandwidth that allow the installation of more sensors and larger-scale technology should accelerate it. Intel estimates that the global smart agriculture market will rise to $23.44 billion by 2025 and that 55% of data on farms will come from IoT devices. Impoverished countries could especially benefit from these advancements as they will allow higher crop yields, saving money and feeding a larger portion of people.
  6. People could use unmanned aerial vehicles (such as drones) in combination with 5G internet to supply a larger area. Especially in rural areas where built-in infrastructure would not provide for all of the people who need it, traveling drones could circulate 5G networks to all that need it. A farmer who is trying to use a cellular device on a large plot of land could have a personal unmanned aerial vehicle that would travel with them as they inspect the whole field, ensuring that their 5G network never experiences an interruption.
  7. Emerging countries are especially willing to build 5G infrastructure as it is more affordable than previous internet structures and proves to have a large payoff. The implementation of 4G networks is often more expensive with less energy efficiency, sustainability and economic increase, causing developing countries to jump straight into adding 5G infrastructure. India, Turkey, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Russia, Qatar, Oman and Uruguay have been some of the first countries to modify their industrial transformation programs. In addition, due to the fact that many western developed countries have banned or restricted 5G data networks until recently, major 5G players such as China have increasingly marketed to developing nations.

Currently, 5G internet is accessible mostly in urban areas due to population density, but rural areas will not lag far behind if areas put the right infrastructure in place. South African cities and Cape Town were the first in Africa to see 5G due to the growth of Rain, a South African company. These seven facts about how 5G internet could reduce poverty show that it holds a bright future for many of the developing countries and will be a key player in the coming years.

Nitya Marimuthu
Photo: Flickr

Internet Access in the DRC
Internet access in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been almost nonexistent for the past decade. The DRC’s internet access is 145th in the world, which is horrendous knowing the haunting past of its internet accessibilities. It was just in 2019 that the DRC lost its internet access completely amidst its election cycle. This has become a growing trend amongst several African and Asian nations, as governments are becoming more capable of shutting down electronic ways of communication and civil discourse. Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and Skype have cut communication. Here is some information about internet access in the DRC.

Economic Burden of Internet Loss

The financial burden that the DRC has faced has become an eroding problem after every internet shutdown of 83 million people. NetBlocks and the Internet Society, both internet access groups, calculated these shutdowns by using an algorithm. NetBlocks is a website that has a Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) that “estimates the economic impact of internet disruption, mobile data blackout or app restriction using indicators from the World Bank, ITU, Eurostat, and U.S. Census.” NetBlocks estimated that the DRC’s shutdown costs an economic downturn of $3 million or more. This paints a bleak picture for the people of the DRC and their government.

Cutting off internet access is one thing but to cut it off at the expense of losing capital funds is a losing feat on both ends. The Internet Society has been trying to answer the question, how can internet access be better for the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

New Approaches to Internet Access

In 2019, The Internet Society started working on launching the second Internet Exchange Point in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kojo Boakye, that Head of Public Policy for Africa, said that “This new infrastructure will help improve connectivity by lowering the cost of delivering Internet services to people in the region.”

Since then, the DRC has seen a steady increase in internet access. Mobile connectivity has increased by 1 million (3.1%) from January 2019 to January 2020. This increase still means that 60% of the DRC’s total population does not have a mobile connection via the internet. Social media accounts have increased by 680,000 (28% increase) from April 2019 to January 2020.

The Future of the Internet in Congo

With TIS and NetBlock’s help, internet access in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should continue to expand as more IEP emerge. Another way of helping the Congo is by advocating for the removal of censorship laws from laws like No. 13/2002. No. 13/2002 “governs the telecommunication sector and confers powers on the government to take charge of communication facilities in the interest of national security or public defense.”

Not complying with these laws makes internet service providers like Bharti Airtel and Orange Group afraid that the country could revoke their licenses. If these laws change or the DRC puts a new one in place, internet access in the DRC should allow others to hear all voices without the government’s force.

Grant Ritchey
Photo: Flickr

internet access in africaIn most developed countries, paper consumption has quickly been reduced as digital resources have offered a more efficient alternative to the traditional pen and paper. However, digital technologies are used neither equally nor to their fullest extent around the world. In many African countries, for example, a 5GB movie could take hours to download. In Singapore, however, that same 5GB movie could be downloaded in less than 12 minutes. As a continent, Africa’s access to high bandwidth internet ranks among some of the lowest compared to the rest of the world. In a growing digital age, it is nearly impossible to thrive when the minimum technological requirements are not met as a continent.

Internet Access in Africa

According to InternetWorldStats, roughly 39% of Africa’s entire population had access to the internet as of December 2019. As of 2019, “17.8% of households in Africa had internet access at home“, and “10.7% of households in Africa had a computer.” These percentages might seem low considering that computer technology is more prevalent than ever before. In Africa, however, high-quality internet access is a luxury many people cannot afford.

Barriers to Internet Access

Affordability is the biggest issue concerning internet access in Africa. Internet access in many African countries is expensive compared to countries outside of the continent. Africa as a whole has the least affordable internet prices on the planet. In the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s annual affordability report for 2019, it stated that “across Africa, the average cost for just 1GB data is 7.12% of the average monthly salary.” To put it in perspective, if the average U.S. consumer had to pay 7.12% of his or her average monthly salary for internet access, it would cost nearly $373 per month to access only 1GB of data.

Solutions

Although the amount of people who have high bandwidth internet access in Africa is low today, numerous organizations are working to close the continent’s digital divide. For instance, an initiative called the Africa Digital Moonshot aims to digitally connect all facets of life in Africa by 2030. Some of the “Moonshot Objectives” include:

  1. Establishing more digital infrastructure

  2. Teaching basic digital skills and literacy

  3. Increasing the amount digital platforms

  4. Making Digital financial services more accessible

  5. Expanding upon digital entrepreneurship

To see this dream come to fruition, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development laid out the first goal for the initiative in a past report: doubling Africa’s broadband connectivity from its current number by 2021. If this is achieved by next year, the plan to implement good quality, universal internet access in Africa by 2030 is on schedule. Although these developments are necessary for improving internet access in Africa, they come with a hefty price tag, since roughly $100 billion is needed to cover numerous implementations (such as infrastructure, legal costs and network management.) Even though the goal hasn’t been achieved yet, internet access rates in Africa are moving in a positive direction. Moreover, the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development is closer than ever to reaching its Seven 2025 Targets for worldwide, universal high bandwidth internet access.

The Economy and Internet Access

Experts also have stressed the critical role high bandwidth internet access in Africa will have for boosting Africa’s economy in the future. Makhtar Diop, the World Banks’ Vice President for Infrastructure, stated that “the digital agenda is first and foremost a growth and jobs agenda.” He goes on to explain that “broadening internet access means creating millions of job opportunities.” When it comes to job creation, universal internet access not only improves domestic business but it also allows for more participation in marketplaces worldwide. For many Africa countries, e-commerce is heavily underutilized, but installing suitable, accessible internet throughout the continent can make conducting e-commerce internationally a top priority for most African businesses.

Given the positive progress Africa has made over the past 20 years concerning internet access, many are optimistic about the continent’s online presence development for the near future. E-commerce, telehealth, mobile education and many other virtual alternatives are slowly becoming more prevalent throughout Africa. The necessary first steps toward improving internet access in Africa have yielded positive results, and these plans for improving access are only the beginning of the continent’s untapped digital potential.

– Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

The current global pandemic is changing the way that everyone and everything operates. What can poverty-stricken countries do when the world around them has shifted to virtual learning and working? It is common for most middle-to-high class families internationally to own some type of smartphone or computer. Those families also have solid access to an internet connection, but there are still 3.7 billion people without any access to the internet. This raises the question of ‘What can families in extreme poverty do when they can no longer go to work or their kids can no longer attend school?’ Spectrum is a widely known leader in communication networks in the U.S. They provide sports television, internet service and landline telephone services. Owned by Charter Communications, Spectrum is the leading platform in the U.S, but their impact is going global in the face of the current crisis as Spectrum is now keeping the world connected.

6 Facts on How Spectrum is Keeping the World Connected

  1. Several countries have declared a state of emergency. Many public services are now only available online, which means that one would need a private contract in order to access them. Data is expensive enough as it stands for countries like South Africa, where it is approximately 10c for 1 megabyte of data. For every 10 South African rands this is 58 U.S. cents. This becomes especially expensive as more people lose their incomes.
  2. Worldwide, there are billions of people using their smartphones instead of visiting their family and friends. Half of those billions of people do not have access to the internet at all. Even in Australia, 13 percent of the population is without any connection to the internet. Spectrum saw there was a need to make sure everyone had the general access to basic services.
  3. Where people used to go to the physician’s office for medical attention, they now have to adapt to downloading specific applications that are necessary for doctor consultations. The United Nations wanted to have universal access to the internet by the end of 2020, but right now it is missing 35% of the world population. That is 2,800,000,000 unable to contact their physician. This is why Spectrum is doing their part to remove any restrictions on their data plans and allowing complete access to all of their services. Removing these restrictions will help low-income people access the service easily.
  4. Spectrum Network is working tirelessly to ensure that, on a global scale, all families are able to access the internet. User demands have shifted to almost entirely online necessities in the midst of the pandemic. Consequently, Spectrum had to make a decision to respond to this demand and how do it effectively. Spectrum accommodated by lifting restrictions on broadband streaming services for all families worldwide.
  5. Spectrum’s network will be accessible for all necessities. These include contacting family, completing school work and working from home. Engineers will be monitoring around the clock to ensure all customers are getting the best speed and capability at all times of the day. They are maintaining the speed of the connectivity and increasing the downloading speed. Tech workers from the company are online and available to help 24/7, making this possible. Spectrum has added a function on its website where connectivity problems can be resolved through its self-service. This cuts down on higher call volume, reducing the number of customers not receiving help while they wait on hold.
  6. Spectrum is providing Wi-Fi hotspots that anyone can sign onto. There is a posted time schedule of when the high network volume tends to slow it down. This gives customers a chance to plan when they want to work or call a loved one with minimal connectivity issues.

To keep up with supply and demand, Spectrum saw keeping the world connected as the only option. They felt a personal responsibility to use their commodity and to give back. It will continue to try and meet its goal of ensuring all people worldwide are able to access the broadband and complete whatever they may need to do with ease.  Many COVID-19 updates are available online. The more people online means more people can access the same communication method for pandemic updates. This keeps as many people as possible aware and informed. Spectrum keeping the world connected is to keep the world safe and informed.

Kimberly Elsey
Photo: Flickr

It is easy for many to take the internet for granted. Roaming around the city, chatting with friends and staying connected with family using mobile applications is possible only because of internet connectivity. One might argue that the internet comes as a luxury element post healthcare, energy, food, shelter and education. The Internet can help people with communication and decision making. For example, farmers can charge their yields at a reasonable price post referring to market prices on the internet. They can even predict weather and harvest accordingly. Money transfers from people across the city can occur instantaneously. This list never ends. Now the internet giant Facebook is teaming up with a company to provide free internet. Here is why Facebook added Reliance as a friend.

Why Facebook Wants to Provide Free Internet

Back in 2015, Facebook experimented with Free Basics for providing basic internet services to the rural population of the world. However, things did not go according to Facebook’s plan because of the regulatory conditions across telecom sectors in different parts of the world. It violated net neutrality laws. After public consultation, the Indian telecom regulator banned Free Basics. Since then Facebook has been eagerly waiting to do something about it.

There are more than 400 million WhatsApp users in India. Added to this fact, Facebook’s core platform has more Indian users than any other country. However, half of the Indian population is still offline. Facebook wants to target that new user-base.

Reliance’s Jio Initiative

Reliance’s Jio initiative succeeded in doing what Facebook was not able to do. It succeeded in providing mobile phones and the internet at a very low cost. It was able to do so because of the revenue generated from other divisions of the organization and the exorbitant loan that Reliance opted for. This move wiped out the telecom sector foundation in India. Competitors such as Vodafone Idea and Airtel lost millions of customers to the new Jio network.

Internet services and call services were provided by Reliance Jio at free of cost in 2016. This move forced competitors to charge less, which in turn, resulted in the internet revolution. Most of the poor population across India started using mobile phones and the internet. As of December 2019, more than 370 million people across India had subscribed to the Reliance network

How Facebook Added Reliance as a Friend

Facebook’s failure in the past to enter Indian markets with the Free Basics concept taught the company an important lesson. Starting from scratch will not work all the time. Acquiring an existing player was an easy choice at this point. Mark Zuckerberg was intelligent enough to detect Jio’s achievements. Added to this fact, the market capitalization of Reliance was down because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indian National Rupee was at all-time low-value trading around 76 INR for 1 USD. After recognizing these facts, Facebook acquired 10% of the stake in Reliance India Limited at $5.7 billion. Facebook can leverage Reliance’s data for targeted advertisements. It will realize a significant jump in advertisement revenues from the Indian region.

Benefits of Increased Internet Access

Education is not available to everyone. Fortunately, people from poor backgrounds can get access to quality education through the internet. Poor people can access online education sites like Unacademy, Coursera and edX at free of cost. Added to this fact, people search and apply for jobs mostly through the internet. All jobs are highly interconnected these days. Thus, the internet would certainly provide intangible benefits to the rural population.

Millions of people could come out of poverty because of free internet access. Economic growth, employment and productivity of a country will improve significantly because of the internet access provision. In fact, Internet connectivity can generate $6.7 trillion of the global economy and create new jobs. India is the second-largest market for internet connectivity ranked only below China. It has around 600 million internet users.

Moving Forward

Around 30 million local stores in India were not online yet. Reliance’s latest experiment JioMart is working towards enabling this dream. Local Kirana stores can connect to the entire Indian population through the internet. If WhatsApp pay is leveraged on this occasion, possibilities will become endless. Owing to all these facts, accepting Reliance’s friend request was a strategic move towards achieving Facebook’s dreams.

– NarasingaMoorthy V 

Photo: Flickr

Starlink Satellite System
As the world progresses through the 21st century, the internet has become an invaluable tool. In the United States, people widely use it for educational purposes. Unfortunately, the developing world is not so lucky. With Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system, people across the planet should be able to gain access to high-speed internet.

The primary challenge with providing high-speed internet across the globe lies with the cost of fiber optic cables. It is very expensive to obtain and supply to certain areas of the world. On the other hand, using a satellite system to create connections in a vacuum is around 47 percent more efficient and does not require the use of fiber optic cables.

How Starlink Will Connect the World

Musk’s plan is to send 42,000 satellites into orbit. This substantial goal by SpaceX might be a dream, but a large number is necessary to ensure fast and widespread connections across the planet.

People who use the Starlink satellite system would require a device called a Starlink Terminal in their homes. It is a simple tool that they would plug in and point towards the sky. For those in hard-to-reach areas and whose internet connections are slow, this is fantastic news.

Ultimately, the hope is to provide all those who cannot obtain a strong internet connection with the means to connect with the world. The first step of the plan is to provide broadband internet to the west first and expand it into the developing world shortly thereafter.

The Global Impact of a Connected World

Global connectivity would provide an opportunity for anyone to receive the same education despite geographical location. Some of the latest reports regarding primary school-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa have indicated that 59 percent drop out of school.

Additionally, the quality of education is poor; many children across the globe are unable to read at a basic level. The main concerns surrounding the lack of education include cost, quality of teaching and a lack of schools and teachers. Fortunately, the Starlink satellite system could provide connectivity to reduce cost, provide proper tools and improve access to education.

The Starlink Terminal would cost between $100-$300 and several people could conceivably share it. A shared cost between multiple people, perhaps a school, would increase the affordability of the Starlink satellite system and terminal.

A growing global economy would likely also result from the Starlink satellite system. Specifically, the system has an extremely low latency for information transfer. This could give people in developing areas of the world more opportunity to participate in local and global stock markets.

Further, since the Starlink satellite system would likely be the fastest internet connection in the world, most of the financial markets would undoubtedly use it. Financial organizations using the system would provide customers the ability to send and receive money at the same rate, no matter the geographic location. Ultimately, the use of the Starlink satellite system would aid in the fight against global poverty by allowing the communities to participate in activities that developed nations regularly have access to.

The Timeline

As of right now, 362 Starlink satellites are orbiting the world and more should launch every other week. However, the recent pandemic might slow down the time frame.

Prior to COVID-19, the expectation was to have all 42,000 satellites orbiting by the end of 2021. Eventually, there will be enough satellites in orbit to provide global coverage. Even if the Starlink satellite system implementation takes more time than Elon Musk originally intended, the potential benefits are difficult to ignore.

The Starlink satellite system has the capacity to connect the entire world, changing the way people around the globe interact with one another.

Drew Pinney
Photo: Wikimedia