Alliance for Affordable Internet wants to drive down the cost of web access around the world

We have a tendency to take access to the internet for granted, but for people in many countries it is a luxury that is prohibitively expensive. This is something that the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) wants to change, aiming to drive down the cost of web access worldwide so that it works out to less than 5 percent of monthly income. A4AI is a consortium of tech companies and other organizations which has the backing of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web.

Membership includes such names as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and Intel, and the alliance wants to do something about the fact that around two thirds of the world's population is not online. The coalition cites figures from the International Telecommunication Union that shows that while internet access in developed countries can cost as little as 2 percent of household income, in other parts of the world this can spiral up to around a third.

The A4AI is pushing for policy and regulatory changes that will help to reduce the prices it believes have been artificially inflated. Members plan to work together, in conjunction with global governments, to promote the sharing of network infrastructures, improving industry transparency and pushing for public participation in decision-making.

Berners-Lee, founder of World Wide Web Foundation, 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 real bottleneck now is anti-competitive policies that keep prices unaffordable.

The Alliance is about removing that barrier and helping as many as possible get online at reasonable cost. 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 real bottleneck now is anti-competitive policies that keep prices unaffordable. The Alliance is about removing that barrier and helping as many as possible get online at reasonable cost.

The A4AI's work should complement Mark Zuckberg's Internet.org which was set up recently with the aim of improving internet access around the world.

Image Credit: Eric Fisher/Flickr

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