Thursday, 27 November 2014

Connecting the Unconnected.

This is a follow on article from my previous article The Missing 3.4B Internet Users. In that article I explained that there would be an extra 3.4B new users in the 3rd world who will be coming online in the next 5 years.

One of the issues on bringing on so many users is to get them access to the Internet itself when reception in these remote but highly populated areas is poor or non-existent. 

There are people working on this, Google as part of their Project X initiative have a Project called Loon which uses balloons to connect people to the Internet from 65,000 feet. The area covered by the transmission is 40Km in diameter under the balloon. It positions itself by moving between wind layers in the atmosphere and is powered by solar cells. The balloons stay in the air for 100 days. They started by using Wifi but quickly switched to using Mobile 4G (LTE) technology in partnership with local phone carriers.

Facebook using the organisation is also working on a solution. They are using solar powered planes which also fly at 65,000 feet in the stratosophere. There is currently less information about this project but they claim it’s better than balloons because the position can be controlled more accurately and it can potentially stay aloft for years.

AirBus have a project called Zephr which also uses a solar powered aircraft flying at 65,000 feet. Testing is in early stages and recently it was flown over the UAE for a day and a night before landing.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Missing 3.4B Internet Users

Over the next 5 years there will be 3.4B additional Internet users based on numbers from an Ericsson report released today. This is more than the number of users online today (Google says 2.9B users). These new users will not have used the Internet before and will have their first experience of the Internet on a Smartphone (and mostly these Smartphones will be Android) and will not have access to a PC at all. Most of these people will be from the Developing world and most of these will be from India and China. Today the Internet.
So in 5 years the Internet will be the same but just with more than double the current users…. right?

The Internet will be very different in 5 years time

The nature and use of this new Internet population is so different from today that this new Internet will be for this new population very different. These new users will be mobile first and mobile only. Most new content generation will be from phones not PCs as is the case today and there will be a new set of phone Apps to create content — and a whole new set of mobile products/services to go with these apps.
Of course Facebook will still be there and because the mobile Facebook app does content generation as well as consumption Facebook might well survive the sweeping changes other Internet services will suffer from.

New Services

The new services will have to cope with different circumstances. Multiple languages, multiple unicode fonts, sporadic e-commerce capabilities and sporadic Internet connectivity and variety of wireless speeds. The business models will also be different. The amount of money that can be made per user in the developing world is less than 1/10th of that that can be made in the west, but the saving factor is there are many more potential users. Thus only large population services will survive. Low population services will be much more difficult.
Of course I am working on some of these new services and anyone that wants to know more please contact me or see our IndieGoGo Campaign.