Google, Facebook, Microsoft join the push for cheaper internet in developing countries.
The Alliance for Affordable Internet, a new union formed to assist citizens living in developing countries use the net to prosper. The new global coalition is aimed at helping people in developing countries access affordable internet, in order to become more involved in the global economy.
The union was unveiled in an October 7 post by Google Access Principal Jennifer Haroon on the Google Public Policy Blog. The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) says its main goal is to fulfill the UN Broadband Commission’s objective to make entry-level broadband available for less than 5% of every region’s monthly income. A target that is currently way off its mark.
Research says that only a third of the world’s population is online, and to add to this, the bulk of those who aren’t simply can’t afford it. In these, less developed countries, a low-end broadband line costs about 30% of a person’s average income. This is meant to compete with a mere 2% in developed regions.
The WWW inventor and A4AI Secretariat Tim Berners-Lee said,” with the advent of affordable smartphones, new undersea cables and innovations in wireless spectrum usage, there is simply no good reason for the digital divides to continue”. The real bottleneck now is anti-competitive policies that keep prices unaffordable. The alliance is about removing that barrier and helping as many as possible get online at reasonable cost.”
The Alliance for Affordable Internet, thirty plus private and public sector members plan to make this point by lobbying for updated policies. Policies that encourage open, competitive and innovative broadband markets. The group has set its sights on approaching at least three African states by the end of this year and 12 countries by 2015. Well aside from pushing a standardized set of best practices, the A4AI will also release an ’Affordability Report’ annually starting this December.
Images courtesy of creativecommons.org