The struggle for providing Internet connectivity to the developing world is making some headway, thanks to the efforts of some of technology’s biggest names. Google has earned accolades for its Project Link initiative, while Internet.org — a consortium of tech giants including Facebook, Ericsson, Samsung, and Qualcomm, among others — are working toward bringing the Internet to the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have it. The general hope is that with high-speed Internet access comes better educational resources and eventually an improved economic situation.
Let’s take a closer look at these largely philanthropic projects and their hopes to spread the Internet in the world’s developing regions.
Google’s Project Link
Project Link is more or less Google Fiber for developing nations. The company chose Kampala, Uganda, as the first site to get Project Link. Kampala suffers from a sub-broadband level of Internet access, which limits the economic prospects and quality of life of the surrounding region.
Google started laying fiber-optic cable in Kampala in November 2013. The hope is to wholesale the created bandwidth to locally based Internet service providers. In fact, Uganda is also home to a few mobile telecommunications companies, one of which offers 4G LTE speeds up to 100 Mbps.
Loon Puts the Internet in a Balloon
Google’s other worldwide Internet initiative is Loon, which uses a series of balloons to provide Internet service without the extra challenge of laying cable at the surface. Considering the logistics of managing thousands of balloons located all over the world, Loon is considered to be more of an experiment for Google. Still, if the company is any slower in rolling out Fiber in the United States, Loon may end up being an option for Internet users located in rural regions.
The Internet.org Consortium
Internet.org, while sharing many of the same hopes as Project Link, is still in a mostly ephemeral state. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg envisions Internet.org as essentially a software-based “911 service” for the Internet that combines social networking and messaging along with other features — all at no cost to the user. It remains to be seen when the project will take off, as compared to Google already being in the stage of actually building the fiber network in Uganda.
Ultimately, providing Internet connectivity to developing nations will take a consistent effort from both technology companies and local governments. Facebook and Google combining their efforts in this area is a concept that actually could make a difference.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons