Bridging the connectivity gap

Bridging the connectivity gap

Less than 40% of all Africans are connected to the Internet, while being connected is of great importance for economic growth. Google is committed to close the connectivity gap.

$1 trillion please

The connectivity gap is huge, and costs to overcome this gap are enormous. And they will keep increasing dramatically. In 2040, closing the connectivity gap is expected to cost $1T.

Investing in improving infrastructure has proven to pay off quickly. Investments can start paying off from 6 months onwards. And they can pay off massively. Investing $2.7 billion in Ireland for example is expected to lead to a GDP growth of $3.9 billion. 

All of this connectivity improves the economy. Connectivity makes it easier for companies to grow by enabling them to reach more people. Besides, it enables individuals without a bank account to get one. This bankless group of people still consist of 1.7 billion adults worldwide. Only thing that is needed is finding (new ways of) funding.

Google has started their investments years ago. From balloons flying to the edge of space to very cheap smartphones; Google has invested in many innovative projects around the world. Our goal: get everyone connected. Even those in very remote areas.  

 

Connected balloons

With respect to those balloons, Google invested in high-tech balloons enabling an internet connection in remote areas. Project Loon consists of a fleet of balloons travelling on the edges of space. Combined, this fleet forms a network similar to a group of towers on the ground. Advanced predictions send these balloons wherever needed using the wind, overcoming the need to use thousands of kilometres of cables. And thereby easily connecting thousands of people.

 These balloons are not only useful in remote places. Loon also deployed balloons after a 8.0 earthquake in Peru. Connectivity was lost with all ground towers being destroyed and lots of floods. The balloons provided connectivity within only 48 hours after the disaster occurred.

 

Low-cost smartphones

Part of the huge amount of unconnected people has to do with money. Google therefore invested money in cheap smartphones. These Android One devices cost less than $100. The pace of development of new smartphones is high. Smartphone manufacturers are therefore mostly busy building new devices. And they do not have time for building cheap phones. Google found an innovative way of getting the resources needed for robust, low-cost and secure devices. Thereby also enabling the poorest to get connected.

The last mile

Subsea offshore internet cables have enabled Africa to connect to the rest of world. The remaining problem is the last mile. Getting fiber networks to the remote African villages is very complex. This is why Google started Project Link. Project Link started off by building fiber optic networks in 5 cities in Uganda and Ghana. The 1.600km network allows internet service providers and mobile operators to use better and faster internet. In 2017 this project was expanded and Google and partners invested a total of $100 million in Project CSquared