Facebook outlines plans for refugee camp connectivity as Microsoft and Google chase after India
A technology triumvirate consisting of Microsoft, Facebook and Google has spent the weekend pledging support for internet access to areas and people less connected than the average web user.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking at a dinner hosted for India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced that his company would fund low-cost broadband expansion across 500,000 Indian villages.
Nadella said: “We believe that low-cost broadband connectivity coupled with the scale of cloud computing intelligence that can be harnessed from data can help drive creativity, efficiency and productivity across governments and businesses of all sizes.”
Nadella’s plan comes as Microsoft’s cloud service Azure goes live in India data centres next week.
“A key part of both Make in India and Digital India, bringing world class infrastructure into India, respecting India’s digital security, sovereignty and privacy is a key milestone for us,” said Nadella.
Not one to be outdone on any announcement, Google also capitalised on the Indian premiere’s visit to Silicon Valley by announcing the firm will be behind Wi-Fi connectivity at more than 400 train stations in India.
Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, said: “Today, on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to our U.S. headquarters, and in line with his Digital India initiative, we announced a new project to provide high-speed public Wi-Fi in 400 train stations across India.
“In the past year, 100 million people in India started using the Internet for the first time. This means there are now more Internet users in India than in every country in the world aside from China. But what’s really astounding is the fact that there are still nearly one billion people in India who aren’t online. We’d like to help get these next billion Indians online—so they can access the entire web, and all of its information and opportunity.”
The Wi-Fi is predicted to benefit about 10 million rail passengers a day, and will be free to use for the foreseeable future.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also ramped up his pseudo-humanitarian internet efforts this weekend, announcing that he plans to bring connectivity to refugee camps, in partnership with the United Nations.
“Today I’m pleased to announce that Facebook is partnering with the One Campaign and leaders and public figures all over the world to launch a global campaign to support a global connectivity declaration. The declaration recognises internet access is an important enabler of human rights,” said Zuckerberg.
“We need to work together to make connecting the world a priority for everyone, from governments and industry to civil society,” he said.