Global Digital
2009/07/15
By : Cynthia La Grou
Developing countries are pursuing strategies to decrease the digital divide, bridging wide information and economic gaps between rich and poor nations. They hope for online books and educational resources, telemedicine, and venues for local artisans to sell goods to a global audience. In response, a movement has sprung up in which activists, techies and social entrepreneurs are trying out opportunities to help bridge the divide and solve the prosaic problems of poverty by creating space for grassroots innovation.

The growth of the Internet in the developed world has been exponential but many obstacles exist before global connectivity becomes a reality. Innovators are tackling a series of technical challenges designing wireless networks and multilingual interfaces. Future FM and mobile may well be the key connecting technologies.

Digital Daily reported on Google's latest effort to bring high-speed Internet to the developing world. In addition to Google, the issue is being addressed by O3b Networks which stands for the "other 3 billion" people without Internet access - which is primarily supported by HSBC Principal Investments and Liberty Global, an international cable operator.

"Together, the three companies are investing $750 million in 16 low-earth orbit satellites that collectively will provide Internet back-haul capacity to areas that lack it. This additional capacity will make it substantially easier and less expensive for others to deliver high-speed Web access to underserved locations. Indeed, according to Larry Alder, product manager in Google's (GOOG) alternative access group, the project could drop the cost of bandwidth in those regions by 95 percent. Said Alder, "This really fits into Google's mission to extend Internet use around the developing world."

The satellites will serve mostly Africa, South America, and the Asia-Pacific region by 2010. Although Google's "don't be evil" mantra may not always be interpreted as such, since the fact of having those users get on the Internet will ultimately benefit Google in the long run, still the bigger corporations are making the necessary capital investments - to bring greater technology access to the rest of the world.
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