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Cool tech alone isn’t sufficient to bring 3.5 billion online globally (who aren’t currently using the internet)

The New York Times | | Jun 28, 2021

Connecting the world - Cool tech alone isn't sufficient to bring 3.5 billion online globally (who aren't currently using the internet)Bringing the rest of the world online requires a million different tactics, and Facebook is on it.

Technology alone, even if it’s cool and backed by billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, isn’t sufficient to bring online the roughly 3.5 billion people worldwide who aren’t using the internet.

The company’s initiative started a few years ago with the simple but profound premise that everyone — governments, citizens and companies including Facebook and businesses that sell internet service and equipment — needs to benefit from the internet in order for it to spread everywhere. That required finding ways to lower the costs to connect the world.

If this sounds a bit ho-hum or difficult to grasp … yes. Facebook’s approach is mostly boring, which I love, and far less visible than billionaires’ satellites, drones or helium balloons used to beam internet service to more places. Instead, Facebook is doing things like sharing internet fiber lines to move data and inventing software for cheaper cellphone equipment. (Yes, Facebook is doing something really helpful!)

Connecting billions requires a million different tactics and some big-picture — and often boring — strategies.

Here are some examples of what Facebook is doing: In North Carolina, Facebook is sharing fast internet lines that it built for its computer centers with a nonprofit internet provider that is delivering service to rural schools and health care institutions. Fast internet connections cost a fortune, and sharing them eases the burden.

Facebook also designed a technology — and released its blueprints for free — that companies are using to make relatively inexpensive internet equipment to attach to light poles or rooftops in places where it’s impractical to tunnel underground to lay conventional internet pipelines. Alaska Communications said recently that it’s using gear based on Facebook’s designs for speedier internet connections in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

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Facebook is also laser focused on the mostly invisible parts of expanding internet access: digging internet pipes into rocky terrain or under water, making cellphone towers a little bit more capable and finding sustainable profit models.  Facebook’s self-interest is also out in the open. The company acknowledges that it benefits if more people get online. But so do countries and their citizens and many other companies that profit from selling stuff to billions more internet-connected people and businesses.

“There is no silver bullet for connecting the world”

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Cool tech alone isn't sufficient to bring 3.5 billion online globally (who aren't currently using the internet) The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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