Not Hardware, Not Software, But Connectivity

There is plenty left to be desired on the hardware and software fronts, but the real bottleneck in getting all 6 billion potential surfers online is neither, but connectivity. What business models could emerge to bridge up the digital divide?

Two technology models that hold promise: (1) broadband over power lines: zip, fast too, and (2) wireless broadband.

Internet access is fast becoming a basic need. What do you need to survive? Food and water are obvious. After that free internet access might be pretty close. I am serious.

The word "free" is important there. You don't pay for television shows. You don't pay to search on Google. The ad-model works just fine. The same could apply to internet access.



Say a company (or two, or three) comes forth, and they beam internet access to all corners of the planet. The catch being, when you go online with them, they, not you decide what the homepage will look like. And for that first webpage, they bring you online for "free." Heck, they might even get you to use only their browser, in which case, they could keep a toolbar that will always be with you no matter where you go online.

A click is a click is a click. I am sure a company like Coke/Pepsi does not care who the human being is. They will want people everywhere to see their ads.

And such a democratizing force that universal internet access will be too. Nothing like that to empower the individual. How will autocracies - those that remain - sustain themselves in the aftermath? They plain can't. Social transformation will be quickened. Universal education will become a reality, and it will be seamless from one level to another. A student in Bhutan could be following lectures at MIT.


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