Several of the biggest names in tech have signed on to a new initiative to bring down Internet costs in the developing world.
Google has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the UK Department of International Development to create a new coalition called the Alliance for Affordable Internet. The group, which officially launched Monday, includes more than 30 members including Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
At the moment, the organization says that 91% of the 1.1 billion households in the world without Internet are in the developing world. The reason, according to the group, is that broadband prices remain prohibitively expensive in these regions: In developed countries, broadband costs about 1.7% of average monthly incomes as of 2012; in developing countries it costs 30.1%. To change that, the Alliance plans to help push the cost of Internet access down to less than 5% of monthly incomes worldwide.
“The reason for the Alliance is simple – the majority of the world’s people are still not online, usually because they can’t afford to be,” Berners-Lee said in a statement. “The result of high prices is a digital divide that slows progress in vital areas such as health, education and science. Yet with the advent of affordable smartphones, new undersea cables and innovations in wireless spectrum usage, there is simply no good reason for the digital divide to continue.”
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