Broadband For The Next Billion: Working to Connect Everyone on Earth to the Internet By 2020
Can we work connect Everyone on Earth to the Internet by 2020? Can we do so focused on leveraging its low cost, open source WiFi technologies to deliver broadband, especially to rural areas of the developing world? At Geeks Without Frontiers we believe that open sources technologies, social enterprise, low cost phones and devices as well as new satellite systems make this goal achievable.
Importantly, GEEKS believes that the year 2020 will be viewed as the ‘Communications Singularity’—a single moment in time when for the first time in history every person on the planet will be connected. Based on recent economic models, a case can be made that bringing broadband to one billion people could create up to $1 trillion dollars of economic impact over the next decade.
The goal of GEEKS’ new initiative is to combine the power of social enterprise, Open Source, and low cost technologies to allow WiFi to go ‘viral’ in the developing world. Providing an ecosystem of software tools, hardware, and backhaul capability to establish village to bring broadband to the next billion.
We believe the key is to combine the power of the marketplace with affordable, state of the art, open source tools which will facilitate internet WiFi networks going viral around the globe. It’s harnessing the power of economics as opposed to traditional models of aid. It’s using market forces to bring sustainable solutions to unconnected areas of the world through access to enhanced communications. Geeks Without Frontiers wants to close the global digital divide by inspiring tens of thousands of local entrepreneurs to run small, local Internet businesses.
Now that High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity is coming online over the developing world, the next big challenge for Internet connectivity will be off-grid sustainable energy to power the Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), enabling the roll-out of village Internet connectivity.
An important driver for this expansion of internet connectivity by the end of the decade will come from open source WiFi- based mesh networks. WiFi solutions, together with an “ecosystem” of hardware and software tools, to enable the development and rollout of large-scale mesh WiFi networks for fractions of the traditional network cost making access to broadband in rural areas an affordable reality.
The ecosystem of tools to include micro-payment systems, network management systems, a local advertising module and, eventually, renewable energy solutions to power the wireless networks. These represent a major step in achieving the vision of affordable broadband for all, capable of bringing tremendous economic and social benefits to millions of people, especially in areas where legacy broadband models are currently considered to be uneconomical.