Google, Facebook, Microsoft Form Alliance To Reduce Internet Costs
Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Intel and others announced Monday the formation of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a coalition of private, public and not-for-profit companies that will lead policy and regulatory reform to help reduce artificially high Internet prices in developing countries.
A4AI will attempt to keep prices below 5% of monthly income worldwide, a target set by the UN Broadband Commission. The group said reaching this goal will connect the two-thirds of the world presently not connected to the Internet and make universal access a reality.
Despite accelerating mobile adoption rates, some 90% of the 1.1 billion households not connected to the Internet are in the developing world, according to the ITU, which focuses on connecting the world. In the developing world, 31% of the population is online, compared with 77% in the developed world.
By end of 2013, telecommunication carriers will support 6.8 billion total mobile-cellular subscriptions worldwide -- almost as many as there are people on the planet. An estimated 2.7 billion people will connect to the Internet though a variety of speeds and for a range of prices, according to the ITU.
The companies believe that by pulling together they can achieve a much greater impact than any one company can achieve on their own. Through a combination of advocacy and sharing research and knowledge, the A4AI will drive policy change and create the conditions for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets.
The group said it will work closely with national governments -- two to three countries in the first year, expanding to between 10 and 12 in years two and three.