Google has its hot-air balloons; Project Loon. Facebook has its giant drones beaming Internet connection down from the sky under the Internet.org and Free Basics app program.
Microsoft not known to the type of company to be left behind has thrown its weight fully into connecting the underserved people living in developing world. Microsoft might not have been a pioneer in the initiative to get the underserved people in the developing countries get Internet access. But it has a long history of taking part in a lot of philanthropic activities across the developing countries.
Microsoft Philanthropies’ top lawyer, Brad Smith, announced that the company is planning on investing in non-profit programs that align themselves towards achieving Affordable Access Initiative. We featured this development last month when Microsoft first announced the launch of the Affordable Access Initiative. Microsoft will be offering tech companies grants to the tune of $75,000 each for their efforts to connect underserved people with cheap and reliable Internet connection.
However, Microsoft project stands out from that of Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s Internet.org and Free Basics app program. In the sense that, both Google and Facebook are targeting at expanding Internet and mobile connections while at the same time extending the coverage for their partner mobile operators globally.
Instead, Microsoft’s initiative wants of offer support and enhance the technology used to deliver affordable last-mile Internet access to users in developing world. In a blog post, Microsoft says, “the foundational challenge to achieve more is acute in developing markets where affordable last-mile Internet access and the ability to leverage cloud-based applications is often lacking.”
Take, for instance, Microsoft is currently working on delivering reliable and long-range Wi-Fi networks using white space; a data spectrum for broadcasting. Microsoft is using this technology to provide Internet access to sensitive institutions like schools, healthcare facilities, police stations and colleges among others in the developing worlds.
A good example in Africa where Microsoft has partnered with a tech company to bridge the gap in Internet connectivity is in Nanyuki, Kenya. Where Microsoft has partnered with Mawingu Networks to rapidly deploy a wireless broadband network to deliver low-cost “packets and power” to individuals and small businesses operating in remote rural areas.
Microsoft is inviting companies and organization to apply for the Affordable Access Initiative. Enterprises that want to take part in this initiative must first present their prototype products to Microsoft. The prototypes must be able to be integrated into Microsoft’s infrastructures that can deploy Internet connectivity, cloud services, and payment technologies.
Companies interested in partnering with Microsoft in the Affordable Access Initiative have until January 16, 2016, to apply. For more information click here.