Facebook and Google are developing well-known and flashy-sounding technologies to deliver internet to the four billion people around the world that are still unconnected. But while these projects may have value and merit in the long run, not to mention garner lots of publicity easily, Microsoft has concluded that a different approach is needed to help people here and now.
Microsoft’s hasn’t just stood still while its rivals were vying for dominance in these untapped markets. Instead, the company has focused its efforts on technology utilizing so-called “white spaces” to deliver internet to remote communities. But while those efforts are ongoing, the company has also decided that engaging with already existing companies, and offering tailored, local solutions is the right way to address lack of connectivity around the world.
To that end, Microsoft has now published a list of twelve companies, over five continents that are to receive seed funding and other types of support directly from Microsoft. These companies already operate in local markets and have a proven model to widen access to the internet in their communities.
Among the companies that have won funding from Microsoft are AirJaldi and Zaya Learning Labs in India, Kelase in Indonesia, Tambero in Argentina, Movivo in the UK, Axiom in the US as well as a number of companies blending solar power and connectivity in other parts of the world.
While this is far less flashy than internet-delivering balloons, or ultra-light drones, Microsoft believes this approach can make a big difference in the short term, by offering people around the world access to information and services.
The company also mentioned it would soon announce new partnerships with some major companies that would have an even bigger positive impact on the world, so we have that to look forward to.