Bono and Mark Zuckerberg have created an army of Internet missionaries, and this campaign to #ConnectTheWorld has some serious clout. By signing The Connectivity Declaration stated here, industry leaders and humanitarians proclaim that Internet access is a basic human right and should be available to everyone. As part of a larger UN effort to end poverty across the globe called #GlobalGoals, the Declaration sets 2020 as a realistic target date when everyone on earth will have Internet access.
That goal may seem optimistic when, according to the Washington Post, today 4.4 billion people do not have Internet access, but this movement is backed by people who have made a name for themselves by doing the impossible. People like Bill Gates and Richard Branson can be found here among the 58 individuals and organizations who have pledged their efforts to completing this monumental task in the next five years.
Companies like Facebook and Google have already begun the race to bring Internet to the 4.4 billion lacking access, but not without an ulterior motive. Google and Facebook are under pressure to expand their user-base, and a country like India, with 1.2 billion inhabitants, is a new-user goldmine. Both companies are experimenting with drones, satellites, and balloons that can beam signals through the stratosphere to connect new users, as well as some more down to earth projects. Google’s efforts to install fiber optic networks across Indian railway stations and Facebook’s Free Basics app which brings users a watered down Internet experience, are evidence that immediate results are very appealing to the two companies.
Both companies have come under fire by Net-Neutrality advocates that claim they are attempting to corner a market that hasn’t had a chance to emerge yet. Facebook has responded to concerns by opening their Free Basics platform to any website, provided they apply first. Although these challengers may present some noteworthy points, the effort to spread Internet access around the world is a top priority for both companies. It is naïve to believe that corporations act purely from a humanitarian position, but the positive results from their efforts shouldn’t be overlooked due to the motive behind it.
If the efforts from these two tech-giants is any indication of the determination to #ConnectTheWorld, I believe 2020 is a pretty reasonable goal. These efforts should not be vilified simply because they elicit a positive result for the companies. Whether it be from The Connectivity Declaration, the efforts of a company in search of new markets, Internet access for everyone is something that is worth working towards.
Colin is a currently a senior at the University of Maryland studying Government and Politics. He is interested in United States foreign policy and hopes to work as a Foreign Service Officer. Throughout his time in school, Colin was able to work for the NFA and Congressman Steny Hoyer. Colin is excited to learn more about digital media strategy with Veracity. Being a purebred Marylander, Colin knows he is lucky to live in America’s greatest state. Although his love for Maryland runs deep, after graduation he plans to leave home and teach English abroad.