Accessing the Internet in Under-developed Countries

As a majority of the world’s population still finds themselves offline, new innovative technologies are ensuring global access to the internet.

Accessing the Internet in Under-developed Countries
Global Broadband to eliminate digital divide

The advent of the internet can be regarded as a major milestone in human civilization history. At par with the Industrial Revolution during the 1700s, the ‘Internet Revolution’ is still in its nascent phase – with a potential to surpass the cultural importance of any major incident in history. Although it has managed to connect a majority of tech savvy population, primarily in developed nations, its prevalence in under-developed countries is still relatively poor. A recent survey by Pew Research Center reveals some important statistics into the global internet usage. In a sample of 39 countries across all levels of development, the study found that 75% of the population uses the internet, mainly comprising of young people with adequate education. In under-developed countries, the number falls down to less than 50%, with only 25% of people using the internet in developing countries like India. In face of such digital divide, it boils down to the internet service providers and government agencies to ensure seamless internet service across the planet at a relatively cheaper cost.

It’s understandable, of course, as why certain impoverished countries have no or limited access to internet today. Smartphones and computers, the only viable source to use it are still relatively expensive in these countries. Majority of users use internet on their smartphones via telecom providers. Although relatively cheap in developed countries, 3G/4G/5G technology is yet to be incorporated in the plans of impoverished nations. Until and unless the cost of these drops down to affordable levels, it’s highly unlikely that people will resort to use those when basic amenities takes precedence.

In hopes of connecting remote locations via the internet, companies such as Alphabet Inc. has taken some giant strides. It has developed a system of balloons to beam high-speed internet to areas where it’s difficult to dig tunnels or construct power cables. This technology has been implemented in Puerto Rico aftermath of the destruction caused by the 2017 hurricane. Known as project Loon, it is set to be introduced in African countries like Kenya as well. Facebook, recently bought Ascenta, a British company specializing in designing solar drones, in hopes of transmitting internet signal via radio waves and enabling people in developing countries to log onto the social network. Although the plan was halted due to logistical difficulties, another tech-giant Space, X has taken over in its mission to provide global wireless internet service. Its Falcon 9 mission launched 11,925 Internet satellites in the hope of providing Wi-Fi to every nook and corner of the world. The company founder, Elon Musk, has stated that the project can effectively cut down the price of broadband internet and connect rural and urban areas.

In 2016, the United Nations passed a nonbinding agreement that makes disruption of internet access a violation of human rights. This is an ideology valued by tech-giants and corporations across the world, who believe that access to the internet has the potential to transform the face of humanity for good. The digital divide that exists today is due to the nascent stage of the ‘Internet revolution’, and with the pace at which technology is advancing, it won’t be long before you could talk to a person via Skype located in a remote African village.