‘Tis the season to be thankful. It’s the time of year to celebrate home-cooked meals with family, the roof over our heads and ubiquitous connectivity that many of us (myself included) take for granted. During this season of giving, it’s important we recognize that in many places, broadband and wireless connectivity are not readily available. Many of us effortlessly maintain connectivity throughout the day regardless of device or location. Other parts of the world are not as fortunate, with residents struggling to find affordable internet access or forced to take extreme measure for limited, often unreliable connectivity.
Residents in Sub-Saharan Africa are an example. Although cell phones are gaining popularity in South Africa and Nigeria according to recent data from Pew Research Center, the development of network infrastructure has lagged. The telecommunications industry in Africa, however, has experienced significant changes over the last few years, with competition triggering an investment in terrestrial fiber optic infrastructure.
Despite these investments, mobile data is still expensive in the region, with mobile operators facing tremendous pressure to adapt. Even more, the rise of affordable smartphones and the pervasiveness of social media has driven consumers to expect more from mobile operators—such as consistent coverage and better connectivity—beyond what they currently deliver.
Bridging the Gap
It’s important to bridge the gap between mobile operators, user expectations, and beyond. In an effort to provide more reliable and affordable connectivity across the region, Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi allows customers to purchase low-cost data packages from local entrepreneurs and internet service providers to access high-speed Internet over reliable Wi-Fi. By leveraging Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi, partners in Africa can bring connectivity to communities who have little or no connection to the internet today.
Research shows that Africa has missed out on growth opportunities and digitalization as a result of its internet penetration, cost and speed. But new programs such as Express Wi-Fi can help further close the gap between this digital divide.
Here’s a great case study video of how Ruckus and Facebook partnered to help bridge the digital divide in Nigeria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoVoYAYLApc
Remember, it’s the season to give thanks. Take a moment to consider what little effort was required to access this article on a mobile device or your computer.