October 9, 2013
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has formed to bring the internet to anyone, anywhere.
Members of the A4AI include:
• The US Department of State
• Research ICT Africa
• The Ford Foundation
• Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web (WWW)
Funding for the initiative is provided by:
• Omidyar Network
The goal of this coalition “is to see the UN Broadband Commission Broadband Target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5% of average monthly income realized.”
Outlined on their website, A4AI is involved in coercing policy changes with reports published to influence nations and the international community to push for those specific agendas.
According to the A4AI, “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%.”
Berners-Lee explained: “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.”
The A4AI envisions a world where the cost of broadband does not exceed 5% of the average income – based on economic data on each individual nation.
Berners-Lee said: “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.”
The focus of this initiative is on Africa because only 16% of the African population is online.
Ethio Telecom, the state-run telecommunications corporation “holds a near monopoly as a broadband service provider and the cost of connection is among the highest in the world when compared to monthly income.”
With a potential 90 million customers in Ethiopia alone, the A4AI hopes to improve infrastructure; including under-sea cables.
Prior to the formation of the A4AI, the Department of State, the Obama administration and prominent members of Silicon Valley met to conduct a fundraising dinner.
Attendees at this event were:
• Kleiner Perkins
• John Doerr
• Mark Zuckerberg
• Steve Jobs
• Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google
Guests spent $35,800 a plate, with $5000 diverted to Obama’s re-election campaign fund and the remainder funneled to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The purpose of the dinner and later meetings with Zuckerberg at the Facebook headquarters was to foster a conversation about “investing in the innovation economy.”
Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, “vowed” that the US “will step up support for a global internet.”
Clinton acknowledged: “The spread of information networks is forming a new nervous system for our planet. When something happens in Haiti or Hunan, the rest of us learn about it in real time – from real people. And we can respond in real time as well . . . There are more ways to spread more ideas to more people than at any moment in history. And even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.”
The former secretary of state said that the information on the internet is “being exploited to undermine human progress and political rights. The same networks that help organize movements for freedom also enable al-Qaida to spew hatred and incite violence against the innocent. And technologies with the potential to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights.”
To further the dream of a government controlled internet, Obama introduced a $3.7 trillion budget to Congress which included “$148 billion for research and development” and “$80 billion for federal information technology programs.”
This money was funneled directly to Silicon Valley giants for research and development, computer training and supplies.
Recently, Schmidt stated that Nairobi is the silicon valley of Africa.
Schmidt said: “Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader. A combination of relatively stable politics, the British legal system, and a benign climate seem to attract a significant share of foreign investment. Incubators are hosting potential solutions to many problems, including connecting M-Pesa (their mobile money solution on simple phones using SMS) with payment systems for local stores. If they manage to get through the upcoming March elections without significant conflict, they will grow quickly.”
As Clinton was exiting her position at the State Department, she “announced a flurry of last-minute programs” that would receive federal government funding.
On the list was the A4AI.
Clinton said: “We’re going to help the next billion people come online.”