Post Facebook and Google’s bids, now Microsoft is stepping up with a ‘Internet for all’ intiative and has announced a $75,000 fund to cultivate organizations working on affordable solutions for providing internet access in under-served markets.
According to Microsoft, 57% of the world’s population is offline. They intend to bring down this percentage by promoting independent organizations who have the potential to conceive viable means of connectivity in the remote areas.
The fund is part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative, which invests in new last-mile access technologies, cloud-based services & applications, and business models.
Microsoft Executive Vice President (Business Development) Peggy Johnson, said –
Today there are approximately four billion people globally without Internet access. The ability to close that gap is more achievable than ever with technology that is readily available and affordable in many parts of the world.
In order to claim a portion of this fund, applicants must be commercial organizations with two or more full-time employees and have a prototype of a working solution and preferably paying customers. Furthermore, such products and business models might combine new cloud services and applications, low-cost forms of Internet connectivity, and new payment mechanisms designed for consumers and smaller businesses in underserved market.
This is not the first time that Microsoft is making efforts to extend internet to remote areas. Earlier, it devised a tech to utilise the bandwidth gaps in TV spectrum in India and use them to connect to the global network. However, as is the case with most such intiatives, the company faces backlash from telecom and cable operators, under the argument that while they pay for spectrum, Microsoft or any other company for that matter shouldn’t be allowed to use it for free.
Facebook too, under its Free Basics program, has been making relentless efforts to transfigure the world into a single connected entity and provide internet connectivity to the most remote areas — again ofcourse, with massive backlash.
Microsoft expects ideas and creativity — on a similar line as the company’s — from organizations that are putting themselves in queue to claim this fund. Also, Microsoft will provide proper guidance and tech if necessary to carry the idea to its implementation level.