Much of the world still lacks access to affordable Internet, and Microsoft is taking new steps to change that.
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The tech giant has awarded grants to 12 businesses working to increase affordable Internet access around the world. The grant recipients, which are based across five continents in 11 countries, are already working to address "a range of challenges that take advantage of last-mile access technologies such as TV white spaces," and their business models have demonstrated the ability to scale up and be market-sustained, Microsoft said.
Now, Redmond will provide each company seed grants and resources to help extend their hardware, applications, connectivity, and power solutions to underserved areas.
"With more than half of the world's population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving," Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Business Development Peggy Johnson said in a statement. "By using technology that's available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come."
Grant recipients include power solutions providers African Renewable Energy Distributor (based in Rawanda) and New Sun Road (Uganda); India-based hardware provider Zaya Learning Labs; connectivity solutions providers AirJaldi (India), Axiom Technologies (US), C3: Communications Consulting Centre (Malawi), Ekovolt (Nigeria), Wi-Fi Interactive Network (Philippines); and application solutions companies Kelase (Indonesia), Movivo (United Kingdom), Tambero.com (Argentina), and VistaBotswana (Botswana).
In addition to financial support, the companies will have access to a "global network" of peers and mentors to share best practices, the opportunity to participate in virtual and in-person events, and ongoing support from Microsoft's Research and Development team.