Everyone loves Wi-Fi, whether on a bus in Kenya, in a hotel room in Cape Town or in their houses in Lagos or Cairo but skyrocketing internet costs in Africa and other regions have made over 60 percent of people in the world still have no access to Internet. Global firms like Google, Microsoft among others have tried to use innovative ways to make sure more people have access to internet.
Facebook last year launched Internet.org to help bring a third of the world online. It has since partnered with almost everyone in the industry to make this project stands. Just recently, Facebook partnered with GSMA to work on policy issues that will see governments reduce taxes on mobile phones. Other initiatives have to been put in place to get more people online, but as Outernet, if it succeeds.
Outernet, a new service founded by US’s MDIF’s Director of Innovation Syed Karim wants to solve this. The free Wi-Fi service aims to use a network of small satellites to transmit internet to any Wi-Fi-enabled device, including mobile phones in the world.
Outernet allows anyone with any internet enabled device to receive signals, regardless of connectivity to the regular internet and aims to end costly data plans from local telecom operators which act as a barrier to accessing information.
“We are excited to incubate such a revolutionary project,” said MDIF CEO Harlan Mandel. “Outernet will bypass censorship, ensure privacy and offer worldwide access to information to everyone, including those who today are beyond the geographic reach of the internet or can’t afford it.”
“Outernet is the modern version of shortwave radio,” said founder Mr. Karim. “It uses leading-edge technology to address a deep social problem. As the world moves towards a global knowledge-driven economy, more than 3 billion people are excluded by cost, geography or jurisdiction. Outernet will increase opportunities for everyone to access digital news and information, allowing greater access to opportunity and education than anything that currently exists.”
Set to be deployed in March 2015, Outernet promises to offer a humanitarian communications system, relaying public service transmissions during emergencies in places where there is no access to conventional communications networks due to natural disasters or man-made restrictions on the free-flow of information.