Microsoft Awards Grants to Expand Internet Access Around the Globe

One of the largest tech firms in the biz is doing its part to bring the entire planet into the age of connectivity.

In an effort to increase global Internet access, Microsoft awarded grants to businesses and organizations developing new tech in the unplugged nations of the world.

From the NY Times:

On Tuesday, the company, which is based in Redmond, Wash., announced the first winners of grants under a new program called the Affordable Access Initiative. The 12 recipients, who will get $70,000 to $150,000 apiece, include a company in Rwanda franchising solar-powered mobile kiosks that provide Wi-Fi and battery recharges, and an Argentine firm that uses monitoring technologies and chatbots so that farmers can keep tabs remotely on the health of their cattle.

Microsoft plans to offer more grants and is likely to provide additional financial support to the projects that show the greatest promise.

All of the current grant recipients are for-profit enterprises. One of them, Axiom Technologies, is based in eastern Maine and will use the money to expand Internet access there. Another recipient, AirJaldi, already works with Facebook to deliver wireless Internet service in rural India.

They may not be flying Internet drones above the clouds like Google or Facebook, but what they are doing is investing in the long-term success of businesses that are making major tech breakthroughs in unindustrialized countries.

Global Internet access isn’t just an excuse for trustafarian backpackers to feel more “connected” to the 3rd world—your self-righteous Facebook rants typed up in your dorm room aren’t helping anyone. This is about opening access to information and bringing people, businesses and organizations closer together. It’s about sharing intelligence with parts of the world so often left in the dark and raising a collective awareness of what’s happening around the globe.

We so frequently take for granted the comfort and ease afforded to us by having instant access to the Internet almost anywhere we go. Companies like Microsoft are building the foundations for the growth of future business and the growth of a smarter earth.

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Cover image: Getty


Posted 05.26.2016 - 05:32 pm EDT

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Michael Gorman