Will Internet be available to 5 bn people?

Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung have launched a global partnership of making Internet access available to the next 5 billion people.

The big question is when will this be achieved and what would be the role of these seven players in making Internet access available to the remaining population?

Presently, 2.7 billion have access to Internet and its adoption is growing by around 9 percent each year. Two-third of the world population is still not connected to Internet. According to the report, the global giants will focus on developing joint projects, sharing knowledge, and mobilizing industry and governments to bring the world online.

The big question is what is the investment commitment from these players for making Internet access available to the next 5 billion people?

As per TeleAnalysis estimate, broadband operators need to invest a minimum of $100 per connection for setting up broadband infrastructure and around $50 for the Internet access device. So in toto, every unconnected Internet user will need around $150 to make them Internet ready. For 5 billion people to access Internet, the total investment comes around $750 billion.

Apart from this, minimum monthly Internet access fee per month comes around $2 or $24 per year. So for Internet access one has to pay $124 billion per year. So, the commitment is around $874 billion.

Even if all these companies come up with a superior R&D technology in areas of chip, application, devices and browser and say the cost reduces by 50 percent then also one needs to invest $437 billion. The question is who will invest and when will this investment happen for those 5 billion people who cannot access Internet.

As per the report, the players will focus on three key challenges in developing countries: making access affordable, using data more efficiently and helping businesses drive access. For making access affordable, the focus is on developing low cost and high quality smartphones. With respect to using data more efficiently, focus is on  developing data compression tools, enhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data and building systems to cache data efficiently.

For helping businesses drive access, the focus is on coming up with new business models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable access. Focus is also on localizing services using local language.

Connecting 5 billion people would not be easy so all partners should track on a quarterly basis the progress of 5 billion Internet connections and their contribution by coming up with a mathematical model which will suggest where they are lagging.


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