Global technology giants, including Google and Facebook, have formed an alliance with the aim of driving down the broadband cost in the developing world and thereby making Internet access affordable to all. Broadband has already brought about a significant transformation in education and healthcare services in advanced countries, but over 90% of people in the world’s 49 least developed countries are still not connected.
This is a concern for companies like Google, whose fortune is solely dependent on internet usage. The result is the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), which was officially launched this week in Nigeria.
The Alliance is made up of 30 organizations, including governmental and social organizations in Brazil and the United States. Other members of the Alliance include Yahoo, Microsoft, Intel and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of World Wide Web.
“Everyone, everywhere should have affordable access to the internet … whether it’s used for economic development, improvements in health and education, or better understanding between people, affordable internet access matters,” the Alliance said in a press release.
The Alliance will focus on persuading regulatory authorities to create the conditions for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets. “Experience shows that changes to policy can deliver impressive results, fast,” the Alliance added, emphasizing its determination to negotiate with telecom regulators.
According to International Telecom Union, households in the developing world currently pay an average 30.1% of monthly income for a fixed-connection. The Alliance hopes to work hand-in-hand with national and regional governments, feeding them with information on best telecom practices.
“With the advent of affordable smartphones, new undersea cables and innovations in wireless spectrum usage, there is simply no good reason for the digital divide to continue,” Berners-Lee said.
The launch of the Alliance follows the creation of Internet.org by Facebook, which vows to push for more simplified phone applications to bring the Internet to the those who still don’t have access.