Tech Companies Plans To Expand the Internet
In a move which appears to represent a boon for global internet culture, Facebook and six other technology companies have launched a not-for-profit organisation that is aimed at bringing the 4bn people in the world who currently cannot access the internet online. The group of companies is made up of mobile phone and electronics manufacturers and software companies in addition to Facebook. The alliance of tech companies wants the take up rate of the internet to increase from its current level at about 8.5% per year to well over 10%. Part of the strategy of the organisation will be to lobby government to establish better infrastructure for internet connectivity around the world. Google and Microsoft have also made attempts to increase the level of internet usage in the global population.
The project is planning to exploit new ‘whitespace’ technology which can help to establish broadband internet connections using blank frequencies which are unused in the television spectrum without the need for a massive cable infrastructure. To get the project off the ground, localisation technology as well as perks for local developers of technology will be used by the project. Some software innovations aimed at improving the viability of the internet in developing countries will also include data compression, caching and efficient network data routing software.
Spinoff Benefits Of Technological Development
Although the companies are embarking on this project for commercial reasons, seeing an enormous opportunity in the developing world, it is also expected that that the remarkable growth that has been seen in the developed world from the digital economy will also benefit the developing world. In some ways, this process has already begun. As an example, the internet and in particular social media are particularly credited with enabling the realisation of democratic values and a popular movement towards the rule of law in Arab countries. The Arab Spring which was a revolutionary movement across the middle east that deposed dictators and created a groundswell of popular support for democratic reform in countries like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and to an extent, Iran. Social media allows activists to quickly organise protests, freely report on political events and instantly beam live information about goings on in their local countries around the world. This makes it very difficult for their local governments to hide from a media blowtorch and international condemnation if there is clear evidence of widespread attempts to suppress protest or violence breaks out in the streets.
The range of benefits that can flow from the expansion of the internet to the developing world cannot be underestimated. As has been seen in western countries, medical expertise will almost have a broadcast capability through online provision and teleconferencing with doctors in developed countries, the provision of online education without students having to attend in person in developing countries, the creation of online legal and governmental services, administration and other type of information services all have the potentially to greatly improve the lives of millions of people around the world. The internet is a great democratiser of information and it seems that the benefits that will flow from this process can only continue to improve the social, political, economic conditions of the global population in the way that this has occurred in the developed world.