Broadband connectivity is the Revolution of the 21st Century and is comparable to the global impact of the introduction of railways had in the 19th century and electricity in the 20th century. Studies clearly show the social, educational, administrative and financial benefits of access to affordable and effective internet. Governments worldwide recognize that connectivity is essential to long-term growth. Many studies show that bringing broadband to an additional billion people will generate billions of dollars of economic development over the next decade.
There are still an estimated 3 billion people worldwide without access to affordable and effective internet, many because they live in regions (in both advanced and emerging economies) where it is considered uneconomical to provide cost effective connectivity. In recognition of the benefits of the ‘digital premium’ that such connectivity brings, addressing this issue has now become a focus for Governments, NGOs and also for international commercial organizations whose business models are based on connectivity.
Advances in communication technology are ensuring that the cost of providing and distributing broadband connectivity is steadily reducing and also that the methods of distribution are becoming increasingly less dependent on expensive and time consuming legacy communications networks. Broadband access will increasingly depend on satellite technology especially now that High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity is coming online. Satellite reception technology is also advancing, becoming more simplified and less expensive ranging from Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to flat panel satellite tracking systems. These advances in satellite technology coupled with advances in wireless and fiber technologies, make the roll-out of local area and village Internet connectivity a much more affordable and achievable reality.
Given the recognition of the material benefits of connectivity coupled with advances in cost reducing technology, Geeks believes that the Communications Singularity — a single moment in time when every person on the planet will benefit from connectivity — will occur within the next decade and that this Communications Singularity will later be viewed as one of the great milestones in the history of human achievement along with its important social, educational, governance and economic benefits for all concerned. Geeks’ Broadband for the next Billion initiative is designed to contribute to achieving this Communications Singularity.
As the first step towards Broadband for the Next Billion, Geeks has launched its VillageConnect initiative which, working with key partners, is designed to bring affordable and effective connectivity to villages and refugee camps. Connectivity will be based on satellite delivery and wifi distribution coupled with an ecosystem of hardware and software tools designed to help recipients leverage the benefits of connectivity.
GEEKS’ DigOnce! initiative is also designed to help achieve the goal of Broadband for the next Billion. The basis of DigOnce! is model legislation designed to drive and inspire a global policy effort to help close the digital divide by accelerating the rollout of more affordable fiber optic networks (in both advanced and emerging economies) through the introduction of a green, intelligent, infrastructure sharing protocol. This is designed to bring connectivity to more people more rapidly whether they are in the United States and Western Europe or in an emerging economy. The DigOnce! model legislation is designed for use by Governments and NGOs around the world to use as a template for considering the benefits of a DigOnce! Policy approach.