Posts

Internet Access Helps Impoverished Nations
As of 2018, 4.1 billion people currently have internet access. This is roughly 95 percent of the world’s 7.1 million population. According to a data graph constructed by Our World in Data, the majority of this internet access is in North America and Asia. Comparatively, on average only about 20 percent of the population of Africa has internet access. Meanwhile, over 60 percent of India’s population lives under the poverty line and only 26 percent of the country’s population has internet access. Internet access can help impoverished nations, though, which is why there are efforts to bring it to places it is not available currently.

Connecting the Globe

Providing a country with internet access is more than just access to the internet. It is also about global connections. Internet.org is an organization that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created, which explains that the internet should be a global right. This is due to the wealth of information that the internet contains. Global Citizen also asserts that if Africa had access to the information that the internet provided, it may be able to jumpstart its infrastructure.

Causes of Lack of Internet Access

Weform.org explains the following reasons for lack of internet access across the world:

  • Countries do not have the proper infrastructure to provide their people with an internet connection. According to the United Nations (U.N.), however, the establishment of 3G networks could be one effort toward improvement.
  • A 3G network currently covers only 60 percent of the world. By 2020, the U.N. expects that 97 percent of the world will have full 3G coverage.

  • Cost is also a major factor because 13 percent of the world’s population currently lives under the poverty line.

  • People in these countries do not always have the skills necessary to properly use the internet. Also, 13 percent of the global population is illiterate.

  • Eighty percent of internet content is only available in 10 different languages and less than half of the global population speaks these languages.

Looking Toward the Future

Internet access can help impoverished nations see major improvements. Google created a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country of Nigeria in 2018. Global Citizen estimated that this could generate $300 billion for Africa’s total GDP by 2025. The Nigerian government is taking notice of the efforts led by Google. President Yemi Osinbajo visited Silicon Valley in 2018 and attended the launch of the Google hotspots, according to Global Citizen. This shows that an increase in technology not only improves conditions for a nation’s people but can also help local governments understand how internet access can reduce poverty.

Another way internet access can reduce poverty is by providing support for those suffering from poverty. Telecommunications company Vodafone launched Vodafone’s Farmers’ Club. Esoko states that the organization provides over 1 million farmers with phones. This allows access to numerous services including farming tips, weather updates and nutrition tips. According to Dela A. Kumahor, who served as a design expert on the project, research showed that farmers often feel restricted by their low amount of technology literacy and lack of business sense. According to The Guardian, Vodafone has done the research to show that mobile-focused agricultural services could lead to a $34 billion increase in 26 different markets by 2020. The service has also rolled out in Turkey, where 500,000 farmers have signed onto the project. This has led to a $100 million increase in farmer productivity.

Internet access can help impoverished nations that need relief. The internet provides jobs, services and connections that allow people, governments and industries the opportunity to help their countries fight global poverty. Improving agriculture and providing services are just two of the ways that internet access can reduce poverty.

– Jacob Creswell
Photo: Flickr

Internet.org-in-Senegal
Facebook has partnered with Tigo, a multinational telecommunications company, to bring access to Internet.org in Senegal. This app offers access to information about healthcare, news and local services without the hefty expense of data charges.

Internet.org was founded in 2013 with the mission “to make affordable Internet access available to everyone in the world and to make the opportunities of the Internet available to everyone. Free basic services are our solution to increase accessibility of the Internet and create awareness around the value it may bring.”

Two out of every three people do not have access to the Internet. And many are questioning why. Devices are too expensive. Service plans are too expensive. A mobile network may not be available in the local area. And if a mobile network is available, the content may not be available in the local language.

However, Internet.org breaks through these barriers with three key concepts: affordability, efficiency and a practical business model.

Data is an expensive way to gain access to the Internet. But by developing technology that decreases the cost of devices and services, Internet.org is taking the first step to provide affordable access to a world of information.

Bandwidth is a necessity when transmitting data, and it is not available everywhere. Internet.org is taking on the challenge to develop technology that compresses bandwidth, which will make data services and networks more efficient.

All of these changes would not be possible without the support of billions of people who are introducing new business models that will help more people gain online access.

Tigo is a company that shares the same values as Internet.org, providing services while keeping in mind affordability, accessibility and availability. With the help of a Tigo SIM card, users in Senegal will have access to services including AccuWeather, BabyCenter & MAMA, BBC News, UNICEF, Facebook and UNICED Facts for Life. Senegal is the sixth country in Africa to gain access to Internet.org. Other countries that have access to Internet.org include Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Columbia, Guatemala, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Malawi and Pakistan.

Many may think that Internet access is available all over the world. This misconception is a leading cause as to why Internet access is still not available to two thirds of the world. With the help of Internet.org in Senegal, many will gain access to much needed information regarding health, local and world news, and education.

Because of Internet.org in Senegal, the people will also have access to recipes to prepare food that is available and local. While providing information on how to prepare food in new and exciting ways, it will also provide the knowledge essential to preparing a balanced meal.

Internet access is a necessity in today’s society. But by expanding Internet.org in Senegal and other countries without Internet, it is also providing the information to live a healthy and informed life.

– Kerri Szulak

Sources: All Africa, Internet.org, Tech City, Tigo
Photo: TechCabal

facebook
Having the internet makes life easier and possibly even more livable. Search engines put the world at your fingertips and participating in virtual communities like Facebook, Youtube, and Reddit unites billions of people under a common thread.

Yet, 4 billion people have never been online.

Facebook hopes to change that by creating Internet.org, an informational platform delivering free Internet access to the two-thirds of the world without it. This set of simple and data efficient sites will introduce the large majority of the world to the value of the Internet.

In the May 4, 2015 video announcement, Mark Zuckerberg said that Internet.org works for the common fisherman, the man the majority of the world relates to. He, like the “chicken farmer in Zambia,” can research ways to better sells their products. Likewise, an expected mother in a rural village can use Internet.org to find the best ways to raise her children. And, when her kids get older, they too can use the open web to help study for exams. Further, research shows that for every billion people with Internet access, more than one hundred million are lifted out of poverty.

Net neutrality is at the core of this argument. Net neutrality is the principle that all data should be distributed equally. This requires the fair distribution of charges, content, sites, applications, necessary equipment, and modes of communication. Zuckerberg supports net neutrality, but also believes that preventing is not enough. There remains the need to actively support underprivileged, minority, and women and children groups, which require access. “Access equals opportunity. Net neutrality should not prevent access. We need both.”

In its inception, Internet.org had an exclusive partnership between Facebook and certain partners. Now, Facebook maintains that Internet.org is free for anyone to join, free of charge. The business model follows that the more people linking through free Internet.org, the more people will end up purchasing affordable access to the broader Internet. Facebook is even going one step further. Internet.org will let anyone build free basic services.

The bottom-line is to give everyone the opportunity to connect. Internet.org will run free resources like Wikipedia, job listings, local news, HIV education, and maternal health services. As the platform grows, it will offer more and more free services
Already, the Internet.org app is available in India, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Colombia, Tanzania, Indonesia, and many other countries. In less than a year, it brought more than 9 million people online.

“As we are having this debate” concludes Zuckerberg, “remember that the people this affects most, the 4 billion unconnected have no voice on the Internet.”

– Lin Sabones

Sources: Facebook, Internet.org, Investopedia
Photo: ITProPortal

Internet.org-Facebook
The promise of the Internet to promote gender equality, health and education in the developing world can be seen as the global internet dream. For the two-thirds of the planet lacking internet access, making this dream a reality is a major challenge moving forward.

Facebook’s internet.org platform has been seen as having the potential to better promote this dream. And though the problem certainly has the potential to greatly improve conditions of connectivity worldwide, a lack of attention to net neutrality and privacy separates that potential from progress and puts users of the platform in danger.

A letter posted to Facebook on May 18 by advocacy group Access Now, and signed by a variety of organizations, criticized the issues and the groups demands.

On issues of net neutrality, the platform has been criticized for the practice of zero-rating, defined in the letter as “the practice by service providers of offering their customers a specific set of services or applications that are free to use without a data plan, or that do not count against existing data caps.”

Zero-rating is an inherent aspect of internet.org’s model. Under this model, certain sites are free after being reviewed by guidelines. Other sites face potentially being routed through internet.org’s proxy server. The server also strips sites of content which violates data use guidelines, which ranges from videos greater than one MB in size to pervasive modern design features such as Javascript.

Along with assisting the platform in zero-rating content creators, the proxy server makes the surveillance and censorship of the platform easier. In an article titled, “Internet.org is Not Neutral, Not Secure, and Not the Internet,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out that HTTPS encryption on sites which run through the proxy server is only possible on the Android version of the service. Though this certainly provides protection to some users, the majority of those that could benefit from using internet.org have basic feature phones, on which Android software is not usable. The May 4 update to the program also prohibits TLS and SSL encryption, according to the letter posted by Access Now.

As a result, oppressive governments will be able to pressure Facebook to provide information about individual users, block web pages and even block users. This lack of security assigns a responsibility to Facebook which endangers users, the letter alleges.

Facebook responded to these concerns in an article titled, “Internet.org: Myths and Facts,” though the response has been seen as inadequate by critics of the platform, with issues of encryption and net neutrality remaining key points of criticism.

The promise of the global internet dream is Facebook’s vision in the creation of internet.org. And though the service currently has the potential to make that dream a reality, greater steps must be taken by all parties involved for the two-thirds of the population for whom that dream matters most.

– Andrew Michaels

Sources: Facebook, Access Now Electronic Frontier Foundation, Internet.Org,, Hindustan Times, SiliconBeat
Photo: TNW News

internet.org
A new Facebook application is attempting to bring Internet services to the world’s developing countries. While many impoverished areas have been limited by an inability to access certain aspects of modern technology, this new development aims to provide important information, such as weather, search engine capabilities and health and education information to in-need communities.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the beginning of internet.org in Zambia on July 31. The application will provide free data access and basic Internet service.

“Over the past year, we’ve been working with mobile operators around the world to deliver on this goal,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page. “We’re starting to see this vision become a reality, and we’ve already helped three million people access the Internet who had no access before.”

Currently, only 15 percent of the Zambian population has access to the Internet. The application, which provides access to sites such as Google Search, Facebook, Wikipedia, Messenger, EZeLibrary and Facts For Life, aims to provide helpful information in a usable format, free of charge.

According to internet.org representative Guy Rosen, approximately 85 percent of people who do not have internet access are in a location that has mobile phone coverage. Despite having phone services, these areas often do not have Internet coverage largely because of expenses and a lack of awareness about the advantages the Internet might provide them.

Many of the web services that internet.org has give people the ability to research job opportunities, stay connected with others and learn more about reproductive health and other aspects of health.

The program is beginning with Airtel, a global phone company, in Zambia. From there, Facebook hopes to spread internet.org to other parts of the world and provide free services to more developing areas.

“This is a big step forward in achieving the mission of Facebook and Internet.org,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re looking forward to bringing free basic services to more countries soon.”

– Julia Thomas 

Sources: BBC News, Airtel, GMA News Online
Photo: Viral Global News

Internet.org_Mark_Zuckerberg
Currently two-thirds of the world’s population, a staggering 5 billion, live without access to basic internet. A lifestyle difficult to imagine here in the U.S. and other countries that have integrated internet into virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Internet.org, a group of powerful allies, is dedicated to utilizing their combined resources to change this.

Internet.org is an innovative partnership spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook,who is  committed to reducing the cost of bringing internet access to the world. The plan is to provide universal access to internet by lowering the cost of serving data by tenfold and reducing the amount of data required to run basic apps by the same amount. These major cost reductions are the keys to reducing the cost of internet access 100-fold. This is the amount of cost reduction that would make it possible to for a worldwide internet providing infrastructure to exist and this group is determined that it can be achieved through technological innovation.

According to Internet.org, providing universal internet access is a fundamental step in the struggle for global resource equality. Access power is so valuable today because the internet is “the backbone of the knowledge-based economy.” This statement recognizes the global shift currently taking place since the advent of the internet that is moving society from a mainly resource-based economy to knowledge-based economy. By providing another 5 billion people across the world to the knowledge economy an unprecedented change could take place., driving the economy up, and impacting poverty worldwide.

“The internet’s impact on global growth is rising rapidly. The internet accounted for 21% of GDP growth over the last five years among developed countries… the internet is also a catalyst for job creation,” according to McKinsey & Co. While this kind of economic growth may not be immediate, the plan has potential to stimulate economies worldwide.

In order to achieve this feat, Internet.org is delving into some large-scale innovative projects to combat even larger technological and socal challenges. Some of these include high-altitude, long-endurance planes, satellite systems and even lasers.

The founding members of this group are impressive, including tech giants Ericsson, Mediatek, Opera, Samsung, Nokia and Qualcomm. Looking at this short list of big names, it is not surprising that some have immediately questioned whether there are purely capitalist motives for these companies that are being disguised behind a humanitarian agenda.

However, in Deloitte’s study on the “Value of Connectivity” they found that “expanding internet access in developing countries to levels seen today in developed economies, we could increase productivity by as much as 25 percent, generating $2.2 trillion in GDP and more than 140 million new jobs, lifting 160 million people out of poverty,” while also having the ability to “deliver critical information on nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention. Once connected, people gain access to basic tools like health information, financial services and education that can help them live fuller, better lives and join the worldwide economy.” With the promise of this kind of massive economic benefit in the developing world, many believe that the motives behind this cooperative effort are somewhat irrelevant.

The concern over hidden agendas may provide the project with the high level of visibility both from those who are critical and those who are supportive. Ultimately, time will be what tells us if this project is able to have the kind of success that will drive the change that it expects.

– Leonna Spilman

Sources: Internet.org, McKinsey & Company

Photo: La Nacion