Cloudflare launches Project Pangea to boost worldwide internet access

Underserved local communities are at the heart of the new initiative.

Cloudflare has launched a new project to expand internet access to the least-served communities across the globe.

On Monday, the cloud service provider said that Project Pangea, available to eligible communities, will cut out the high costs of securing bandwidth in areas that have not been able to leverage any existing telecommunication infrastructure to build out web access potentially due to their location or the expense required. 

Communities -- including local groups and non-profit organizations -- that apply and are accepted to Project Pangea will be able to leverage Cloudflare's network to "build their own telecom infrastructure [and] find a free and sustainable way to connect people who rely on the internet for everything from communication to education and economic development."

According to Matthew Prince, co-founder & CEO of Cloudflare, reliable internet access should be considered a "basic human right," potentially due to how today's companies and individuals rely on the web for education, conduct business, and stay in touch with others.

"Unfortunately, many communities are building their own infrastructure only to be blocked by high bandwidth costs," Prince commented. "We want to help where we can -- if they've already built the connecting roads, we want to offer our network as the safe, accessible highway to the global internet."

Cloudflare says that Project Pangea will provide an "on-ramp" to the web for free. Community network organizers will also have access to the firm's security tools: Cloudflare Network Interconnect, Magic Transit, and Magic Firewall. 

Local communities will be set up with data centers closest to them to optimize internet speeds. 

Participants have to be non-profits, cooperative community networks, or small/private commercial networks working for local communities. In addition, they must have their own IPv4 space, and they must be able to establish backhaul to an exchange point. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many to stay at home and rely on the internet to satisfy basic needs, communicate, and keep businesses running. The divide between the haves and 'have-nots' when it comes to access became even more apparent. 

According to the World Economic Forum, almost half of the world's population has no access to the internet at all, and fewer than one in five "in the least developed countries are connected."

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