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Technology alone, even if it’s great and backed by billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, isn’t enough to bring the roughly 3.5 billion people worldwide who don’t use the Internet online.
That’s why I appreciate a holistic approach taken by Facebook that intelligently considers the complexity of the challenge.
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 devices and services – need to benefit from the internet so that it spreads everywhere. That requires finding ways to reduce costs to connect the world.
If this sounds a bit ho-hum or elusive… yes. Facebook’s approach is mostly boring, which I love, and is much less visible than the satellites, drones or billionaires’ balloons used to transmit internet services to many more places. Instead, Facebook is doing things like sharing the internet to move data and inventing cheaper mobile software. (Yes, Facebook is doing something really useful!)
There is likely no one Big Bang solution to bringing the rest of the world online, but instead a variety of approaches related to effective policies by governments, corporations Self-interests such as Facebook, charities and local community organizations tailor internet technologies and policies to their needs.
Connecting billions of people requires a million different tactics and some visionary – and often boring – strategies.
Here are some examples of what Facebook is doing: In North Carolina, Facebook is sharing the fast internet connection it has built for its computer centers with a nonprofit internet provider that is providing provide services to rural schools and health care facilities. Fast internet connections cost a lot, and sharing them eases the burden.
Facebook has also designed a technology — and released its blueprints for free — that companies are using to make relatively inexpensive internet equipment to attach to lampposts or roofs in places that don’t really work. economical when digging underground tunnels to lay common internet pipes. Alaska Communications recently said it is using a device based on a Facebook design for faster internet connections in Fairbanks and Anchorage.
And imagine if Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all owned the same cellular network. That’s basically what Facebook did with partners in Peru to collaborate on a mobile internet in a sparsely populated area. Otherwise, it may cost too much against the potential revenue too little for companies to invest in those areas. Facebook says the project has covered about 1.5 million Peruvians with 4G service since it began two years ago.
It’s not just Facebook; Other companies and organizations such as the Alliance for Affordable Internet or A4AI and the Omidyar Network are also adopting holistic approaches to expanding internet usage.
Facebook’s messy internet connectivity projects may not work. The company is not very good at explaining to ordinary people what they are doing, as you will notice from this information that the company announced on Monday. However, Facebook may have learned some lessons from legitimate insights about its higher-level projects aimed at expanding internet access in ways that largely benefited itself.
What’s different about these internet-connected projects is that Facebook is mostly behind. It is trying a variety of ways to help the cottage industry that already exists on the internet, including government agencies, internet equipment sellers and mobile phone service providers.
Facebook is also focusing on the mostly invisible parts of expanding internet access: digging internet pipes into rocky or underwater terrain, making cell phone towers a little more capable, and finding patterns. sustainable profits.
Facebook’s private interests are also being made public. The company admits that it would be beneficial if more people were online. But so do countries and their citizens and many other companies that profit from selling to billions of other internet-connected people and businesses.
Dan Rabinovitsj, Facebook vice president who leads the internet connectivity project, told me: “There is no silver bullet to connecting the world. He and his colleagues have repeated that sentiment many times. That is possibly the most important statement about the challenge of improving the Internet for all.
Facebook’s approach isn’t perfect, and it will take longer to gauge how well it works. But in principle, this is the internet revolution – a methodical, collaborative and largely focused on basics to get more people online. Changing the world is sometimes very dull.
Before we go…
Cheat brings cash: My colleague Shane Goldmacher reports on the “dirty little secret of online political fundraising” – that both Democrats and Republicans use misleading and misleading texts and emails Mistakes are more likely to trick older Americans who are not internet savvy. Tactics include fake bill notifications, breathless exaggeration, and pre-checkboxes that automatically repeat donations.
Shrinking TV problem: The Washington Post writes about how subscription streaming services have contributed to the rapid disappearance of hugely popular TV shows that once attracted tens of millions of people. Creating a lot of TV shows for a few tends to be a better bet for subscription services than creating a few shows for a lot, The Post says.
Laptops that are under $500 and don’t stink: Wirecutter, the New York Times product page, offers suggestions for good products to consider and how to shop smart.
“Don’t run anymore, there’s a bear!!!” In Anchorage, a marathon was halted when a bear with her cubs plunged down the middle of the track. The race was rerouted, the runners continued and no one was injured.
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