Microsoft Wants to Bring Internet Access to 40 Million People by 2022
More than half of the world's population is connected to the Internet.
While that is incredible, that means that billions of people are still on "the wrong side of the digital divide," as a recent Microsoft blog post puts it.
With its 2017 Airband Initiative, Microsoft helped to give rural Americans Internet access. Now, the company is working on applying the principles it has learned across Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
Extending Internet access worldwide
Microsoft's post says, "through the new international track of the Airband Initiative, our goal is to extend internet access to 40 million unserved and underserved people around the globe by July 2022."
In order to build out Internet access, Microsoft will employ a four-part approach, Engadget reports.
They will work with locals ISPs and communities to implement affordable internet access and encourage regulators to use TV White Space (TVWS) — wireless frequencies that can be reprogrammed to allow wide-ranging internet access.
The company will also enable "rural digital transformation in newly connected areas, with a focus on supporting agriculture, education, rural entrepreneurship, and telemedicine, as well as off-grid energy sources were necessary in order to improve rural productivity and livelihood."
Finally, "a large ecosystem of support" will be created, which will make it so that connectivity projects can acquire international funding and be scaled beyond Microsoft's own investments.
Closing the connectivity gap
"A wireless technology or a business model that is suitable for connecting customers in one location might not be suitable for connecting customers in another location," Shelley McKinley, the company's head of technology, wrote in the Microsoft blog post.
"Our experience has shown us that a multi-stakeholder approach is needed to close the connectivity gap," the blog post continued.
Strong progress has already been made in fighting regulatory hurdles and implementing Internet access in rural parts of countries like Colombia and Ghana.
Overall, the Bill Gates-founded company talks up the connection the Internet gives us in its post — a welcome change from the online division and controversy that is so prevalent in the news.
"There are too many things that divide us in the world today," the post says. "The internet can bring us closer together, foster new understandings and connections, and remove structural barriers to opportunity and equality."