Today, more than 40% of the world is without access to the internet, a tool which brings incredible access to knowledge (education) and important information, communication tools that keep loved ones connected and are crucial for emergencies, and economic opportunities. And over the last year, as the world is spending more time at home, digital economies are booming and education is going remote. With an uncertain future, we need to fix the digital divide or we risk leaving billions of people even further behind.
The Data Center Problem: Cost & Proximity
The centralized data centers that power today's Internet are located "strategically" mainly in North America, Europe, and select parts of Asia. For populations living in these regions, Internet is accessible and generally relatively affordable. But the further you travel from these data centers, the less available and more expensive the internet becomes. Internet access is mostly an issue Sub-saharan Africa, throughout Asia, and some parts of South America.
Of course some data centers can be and are being built in and near developing and remote regions, but for reasons including cost and audience, this hasn't been a huge priority to date. Beyond that, the data center model as a whole simply cannot scale to meet the future demands of the internet nor is it sustainable for our planet, so this is not the right option.
The Internet Shutdown Problem: Control & Manipulation
Lack of internet access isn't always just an availability or affordability problem. Today's internet can be limited or even shut down at any point, by the right people. Take a quick look at NetBlocks.org, an organization that reports on global internet disruptions or outages. Typically governments are enacting these measures during times of unrest or protest or important political moments. Even in the United States, the Executive Branch of the government has the power to shut down the internet in a case of a national emergency.
Cutting the internet or restricting certain services based on region (a common practice as well) is not only not right, it's dangerous. People rely on the internet for information and communication and no government or entity should have the ability to shut the internet down at their discretion.
The ThreeFold Solution: Fair & Neutral Internet for All
In 2016, the United Nations declared internet access to be a human right, yet today if you are reading this post, you are privileged. All humans deserve access to the internet and ThreeFold has the solution.
With the ThreeFold model, nodes can be set up anywhere in the world where an existing internet connection and electricity are present. By putting physical infrastructure at the edge (close to users), greater levels of access can be reached.
Further, the ThreeFold Grid cannot be shut down or manipulated. It is a neutral internet owned by the people, where autonomous technology heals and runs itself and requires minimal human intervention.
Today we are working with partners in the clean energy and network / connectivity to build the solutions that are needed to provide fair and uninterrupted internet access with all corners of the world.
Of course we will need new safe, secure, and private solutions for people to collaborate online. Many of these are already live and deployable via ThreeFold Now Community Solutions. We are working with partners in the education space as well to build toolsets for students to enrich their lives.
We need a more inclusive internet, and that is what we are building.