Internet for all: Alliance for Affordable Internet founded

Internet for all: Alliance for Affordable Internet founded

Summary: The newly formed Alliance for Affordable Internet will attempt to drive down Internet prices throughout the developing world.

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TOPICS: Networking, Google
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In the 21st century, you could argue that Internet access is almost as important as literacy. In much of the developed world, Internet access is affordable and easily available. In the third world, it's often neither affordable nor available. The newly created Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) seeks to make the Internet accessible to almost anyone, anywhere.

A4AI-logo

Just how expensive is the Internet in some countries? Jennifer Haroon, Google's Access Principal, wrote, "Imagine a world where you spent 30 percent of your monthly income on basic Internet service. Could you pay? What might you have to give up? For billions of people, these costs—and questions—are an unaffordable reality that stops them from accessing the Web."

The A4AI aims to "drive down artificially high Internet prices in developing countries. By advocating for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets, A4AI aims to help access prices fall to below 5 percent of monthly income worldwide." By reaching this goal the A4IA "can help connect the two-thirds of the world that is presently not connected to the Internet and make universal access a reality."

To make this happen, the A4AI announced the following plans at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization's Annual Forum in Abuja, Nigeria:

  • The Alliance will begin in-country engagements with three to four countries by the end of 2013, expanding to at least twelve countries by the end of 2015.

  • Members have committed to a set of policy best practices (PDF Link) that will guide advocacy work at the international level. These policies will drive prices down include allowing innovative allocation of spectrum, promoting infrastructure sharing, and increasing transparency and public participation in regulatory decisions.

  • A4AI will produce an annual ‘Affordability Report’, with the first edition being unveiled in December 2013.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Web's inventor and founder of the World Wide Web Foundation said in a statement:

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. In Mozambique, for example, a recent study showed that using just 1GB of data can cost well over two months’ wages for the average citizen.

The result of high prices is a digital divide that slows progress in vital areas such as health, education and science. Yet with the advent of affordable smartphones, new undersea cables and innovations in wireless spectrum usage, there is simply no good reason for the digital divide to continue. The real bottleneck now is anti-competitive policies that keep prices unaffordable. The Alliance is about removing that barrier and helping as many as possible get online at reasonable cost.

The eventual goal, which would bring 2-billion more users to the Internet, sounds too idealistic to be true, but with both corporate backers such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Facebook, and government backers including the US State Department, the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), and the Omidyar Network, this group has far more resources than most organizations.

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14 comments
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  • Fix it first.

    This is great, but frankly I'd be embarrassed to dump the internet as it stands on unsuspecting impoverished nations with it being full of porn, spam and click-bait ads. Let's show some semblance of morality and act like good citizens, then invite them to the party.
    jkappster
    • What you consider good others do not.

      And trying to impose your view of morality on others is intrinsically wrong.
      jessepollard
      • And, what you consider bad others do not.

        Imposing your lack of morality is extrinsically wrong.
        Chris Pasquariello
  • Great!

    I live in Nicaragua and I pay USD 75.00 (Plus taxes) for a package of digital TV, a landline (analog) and a 5 MB internet access (maximum you can get). I don't know if that's too much or normal.

    The problem her is that there is not competition. There is only one company with real residential internet.

    I wold like my country to be part of the A4AI.
    Carlos Estrada
    • I live in the U.S. and pay

      about $75 per month for internet and basic cable television. Telephone (land line) is Vonage at $25 plus $10 in taxes and fees. Total is $110 per month. Granted, I do get 20 megabit transfer rate and unlimited data.

      From the sounds of it, you've got a pretty good deal. Countries like Mozambique that can't afford any access are the real problem.
      Cynical99
      • US$ do not have the same value every where

        The Hourly rate for minimum wages in Nicaragua is around 0.57US$ compared to 7.35US$ (Missouri). I guess it is not such a good deal after all!
        DrLilianBlot
        • Now you've opened a can of worms

          While the minimum wage is one form of comparison, it leaves out the bulk of the elements in the cost of living.

          You'd also need to compare rent, food costs, and the rest. If you can afford the $75 per month, I'd bet you aren't on minimum wage as $75 is about a month of labor at minimum wage, leaving nothing for food or rent.

          There are many methods to access the internet as well. Here, a library serves a large part of the population. While access is limited to 2 hours at a time, the internet is available at no cost.

          Internet cafe's are another possibility in urban areas.

          I think the point of the group is to bring internet to non-urban areas as well though. any of us in urban areas may not even be on their radar as internet is available to us at a cost where small villages have no chance at any cost.
          Cynical99
    • The A4AI will not reduce the cost of your internet

      because it doesn't call for de-regulation, but re-regulation with more special interests involved.
      baggins_z
  • Too high everywhere

    It could be argued that Internet isn't really affordable even in developed countries. But in developing countries, the real issue is that first, poverty needs to be eliminated in those places, Internet or no Internet. When you have really, really low wages, then yes, EVERYTHING is a huge chunk of the income.
    ebinrock
    • OK so define poverty

      What is poverty? Just the lack of income? the inability to purchase basic needs? Then define basic needs.

      When you've done all that, get a consensus and eliminate that.

      In my mind, if a person has the hope of moving upward, then they are not in poverty. When all hope is gone, then they are in poverty. Just try to get anyone else to agree with your definition though. That's a major problem.

      When someone has hope but chooses to do nothing about it, then it is their problem. When someone has no hope of improvement then that nation has a real problem.

      Then, how does a government instill hope in its people?

      Probably not possible.
      Cynical99
      • It is easy to instill hope in people. Encourage self-reliance.

        Reward success. Remove obstacles and barriers to success. It will never happen because a self-reliant, prosperous people do not NEED government. And governments exist to enslave and control populations.
        baggins_z
  • what about the developed world?

    Can we lower artificially high prices here too?
    marksteele
  • 5%???

    For someone making $1000/month ($12,000/year), that is $50. If they make $5000/month ($60,000/year), that is $250. So once again, the middle class subsidizes everyone else!!!

    I know it said to "fall below 5% on monthly income, but 4.9% is below. Even 1% of $5000/month is still $50/month - about the same as the current price of TWC's charge for 7Mbps (and even higher late at night when TV viewing is way down). Granted, the $1K/month would only pay$10/month at 1% - but that might still be too high at that income level (except some high school/college kid living at home).
    bobc4012@...
  • Portugal

    Fiber optics internet in Portugal goes for 45€ with cable TV and free landline telephone included, still, there is the possibility for cheaper internet+ cable TV (15-25€). Considering the minimum wage/month here is nearly 500€ and Europe is also at a money crisis it can become troublesome for some part (if not most) of the population. refer to www.meo.pt and www.zon.pt
    Lorenzo Von Matterhorn