Microsoft Starts Fund to Provide Internet Access for People in Need Around the Globe

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Software giant Microsoft has started a grant program called Affordable Access Initiative to help fund small businesses that are helping people connect to the Internet.

Currently, while Internet use might seem ubiquitous in much of the West, only 40 percent of the world’s population is connected. That number translates to about 3.3 billion people, meaning that more than 4.1 billion remain unconnected. So as the world continues to harness technology and move online, these billions of people are left behind.

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A handful of large tech firms have long been working to connect more people to the Internet, and to make that connection affordable and accessible. Last year, Facebook announced a drone that could beam the Internet to earth with laser technology. And Google has begun launching large balloons high into the atmosphere to help deliver Internet to those who need it most.

Check out Microsoft’s video below, which breaks down the issue.

As explained in the video, Microsoft has officially joined the cause. Their strategy, though, is a bit less hands on.

“We are taking a different approach than some of the others in the area. We are partnering with the locals. We are focused on the here and now and what you can do in the existing ecosystem.” Microsoft’s Executive vice President for business development Peggy Johnson said, the New York Times reported.

Instead of directly contributing ideas or inventions, or implementing programs, the Redmond, Washington-based company has founded a grant project called the Affordable Access Initiative to fund small businesses that are already working toward innovative solutions.

On Tuesday the company announced the first recipients of the grants, which run from $70,000 – $150,000 each. The 12 companies come from all around the globe, and while all are for-profit enterprises, they are all already functioning businesses that are aimed at improving the lives of people through Internet access and affordability.

The grant recipients include: VistaBotswana from Botswana, Ekovolt from Nigeria, African Renewable Energy Distributor from Rwanda, and Zaya Learning Labs from India, among several others.

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“Recipients of grant are already addressing a range of challenges that take advantage of last-mile access technologies such as TV white spaces,” Johnson said.

The new grant program is a part of a new initiative of Microsoft to invest $1 billion to use cloud technology for social good — one aspect of expanding the use of cloud technology is helping to get populations that will benefit the most connected to the Internet.

In addition to the funding provided through the Affordable Access Initiative the 12 companies will also receive BizSpark tools like free software and technological support from Microsoft.

For their desire to help make valuable resources like technology available to those who need it, and for supporting local businesses to achieve this goal we are proud to name Microsoft and the Affordable Access Initiative our Luminaries of the Week.



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About the author: Gary Joshua Garrison


Gary Joshua Garrison is the Prose Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. His fiction has appeared in various locations around the World Wide Web, as well as in bound reams of paper. His nonfictional musing can be found at Luminary Daily and Way Too Indie. He writes, teaches, and goes to the movies in the desert of Arizona with his well-postured cat, Widget.



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