Search engine giant, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) along with other companies in the technology industry including Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) to name a few joined the organization with an objective to make internet access more affordable to consumers.
Google is one of the global sponsors of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4A1), a coalition of private and public sectors dedicated in leading a policy and regulatory reform as well as to encourage actions that would drive down the artificially high costs of internet access in developing countries.
The A4AI aims to lower the cost of internet access to the target price (below 5% of monthly income worldwide) set by UN Broadband Commission. According to the coalition, it would be able to help connect two-thirds of the population of the world that have no access to the internet.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web and founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and Dr. Bitange Ndemo, honorary chairperson of A4AI initiated the coalition.
“The reason for the Alliance is simple – the majority of the world’s people are still not online, usually because they can’t afford to be. “The result of high prices is a digital divide that slows progress in vital areas such as health, education and science,” said Berners-Lee.
He added that “anti-competitive policies” are keeping prices unaffordable and the A4AI aims to remove that obstacle to help as many people as possible to have internet access at reasonable cost.
In a blog post, Jennifer Haroon, Access Principal at Google wrote, “New technologies play a crucial role in bringing the internet to more people worldwide –we’ve developed and invested in many of these big ideas over the years.”
According to Haroon, Google broke a new ground with is balloon-powered internet access known as the “Project Loon,” and the search engine giant plans to bring broadband to Africa with TV White Spaces. The company is also providing funding to organizations such as the Internet Society to develop internet exchange pints in emerging markets.
Haroon also said, Google’s new technologies have impact, but she emphasized that “no single solution can connect the 5 billion people living without internet access today.”
In addition to Google, the three other global sponsors of A4AI are Omidyar Network, UKAID, and USAID.
Meanwhile, the United Nations released a report indicating that 40% or 2.7 billion of the world’s population will be online by the end of the year due to the rapid growth of mobile broadband.