Microsoft is pledging cash support of up to $75,000 to startups that are working on ideas or products that will reduce the cost of Internet access. The Redmond tech giant is also throwing in some free software, supporting services and acceleration program to the said startups.
“Today there are approximately four billion people globally without Internet access. The ability to close that gap is more achievable than ever with technology that is readily available and affordable in many parts of the world,” said Peggy Johnson, the Executive VP Business Development at Microsoft. “Through this fund, we hope to kick-start the entrepreneurial process by identifying promising ideas that we can help nurture, grow and scale.”
This fund is part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative, a program the Windows maker uses to invest into last-mile access technologies, apps, and cloud-based services. The company also requires that the startups be commercial organizations with at least two full-time employees, a working prototype and possibly paying customers. Eligible startups must also meet the following requirements:
Participate in the new cloud-based services and applications
Must demonstrate ability in establishing affordable Internet connectivity
Must have a payment platform suitable for customers and SMEs in the underserved market segment
More details are available on the Microsoft website.
Microsoft also has another innovative program for reducing the cost of Internet access, such as the TV whitespaces. It has deployed such Internet infrastructures in various markets around the world and is currently working with other partners to roll out the technology across 17 countries in all the five continents.