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Growing the Internet 26 August 2015

Connecting the Next Billion

Raúl Echeberría
By Raúl EcheberríaFormer Vice President, Global Engagement, and Former Trustee

Connecting the next Billion is one of the central issues on the international Internet and Internet Governance agenda, and will be one of the key working themes at the next Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which will be held in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, this November.

The Internet Society considers Connecting the Next Billion as a key issue, as it relates directly to our vision. Our vision states that “the Internet is for everyone.” Of course, we are not talking about just any Internet – we are talking about a free and open Internet, one that will serve as a platform for human, social and economic development and be a tool for strengthening human rights.

This is the reason behind all our work.

Contributing to this debate, especially at the IGF, is not only our duty but it’s also in our best interest.

When we talk about connecting the next billion and everyone understands what we mean – connect new users, lower connectivity cost, create opportunities for access. The greater concern, however, is not how to connect the next billion users, but actually how to connect the last two billion.

Thanks to a combination of market forces, public policies aimed at increasing connectivity, and the work of organizations such as the Internet Society that strive towards global Internet development, the next billion should not be as difficult to connect.

This means that the question we must ask ourselves is how to connect all the unconnected people.

ISOC’s connectivity strategy is based on four pillars:

  • Infrastructure development 
  • Community development 
  • Human capacity development 
  • Influencing public policies 

Our programs allow us to make a difference —an important difference— to many people, and to connect or be instrumental in connecting many people. We cannot, however, connect the next billion or billions by ourselves.

We must continue furthering our projects and developing partnerships to achieve a greater impact. At the end of the day, we will only be able to connect billions of users if we can bring our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned to policy makers.

This is why it’s very important to work with people – particularly in governments, international organizations, and leaders of other organizations involved in development – so we can turn the lessons learned from our experiences into best practices and public policies.

This is the only way we’ll be able to grow from thousands to billions.

Our contribution to the IGF debates is in-line with the vision described above. Of course, we’ll also add information regarding our projects and the experience we’ve gained through our work.

While speaking of the IGF and our contributions to the upcoming meeting in Joao Pessao, I’d also like to note that, in addition to our involvement in content discussions, our commitment to a successful IGF in terms of the debate, and our active participation in the development of best practices at global, regional and local levels, we continue to be strongly committed to providing financial support to the IGF, both directly to the IGF Secretariat as well as to a foundation created in 2014: the IGFSA Foundation. As well as providing full secretariat and administrative support, we’ve contributed USD 50,000 this year.

You can give to the IGF too.

I invite you to continue to work together, contributing to the debate on how to connect the next billion users.

Photo: “Motorcycle & Mobile Phone” © 2014 Adam Cohn CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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