According to the latest statistics, roughly 58% of the global population uses the internet. There are still pockets of people around the world that are not connected to the Internet. Tech companies have noticed this opportunity and they have programs in place to capitalize on it.
Microsoft announced that they are planning to connect 40 million people across the world to the Internet by 2022. The company says that they will concentrate their efforts initially in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Microsoft has done such work before with their Airband Initiative in 2017 which had the goal of bringing broadband connectivity in rural America by July 2022. The Airband initiative also included projects in Kenya where they partnered with Mawingu Networks to connect people to the Internet for as little as a dollar per month.
The company says they realize that there are different challenges and different solutions for each region, like what would work in Kenya won’t work in Ghana for example.
They plan on approaching this through several strategies. They will remove regulatory obstacles to TV White Space (unused broadcast frequencies) that will help their partners extend their networks to unserved rural areas. They will also partner will local ISPs to provide the internet services. They will also enable rural digital transformation with a focus on agriculture, education, entrepreneurship and telemedicine. Finally, they will build a large ecosystem of support with a focus on financing to scale these projects beyond their direct investments.
“Through our work and our engagement, we hope to not just connect people, but provide a blueprint for other public and private sector entities to think about connectivity as a core part of their investments in health, gender, equity, water, energy or any other core area of sustainable development,” they said in their blog.