Alliance for Affordable Internet

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Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)
Communications
Industry Communication Industry
Area served
Communication and Internet Services
Key people
Sonia Jorge (Executive Director), Kojo Boakye (Policy Manager)
Website http://a4ai.org/

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (abbreviated A4AI) is an initiative to make the Internet more affordable to people around the world. The World Wide Web Foundation serves as the Secretariat, and major members of coalition include Google, the Omidyar Network, the Department for International Development, United States Agency for International Development, Facebook, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, UN Women and many others from the public, private and civil society sectors.[1][2]

History[edit]

Purpose[edit]

A4AI was created with the goal of obtaining global broadband internet access priced at less than 5% of average per capita income globally; the target of the UN Broadband Commission. It cites the lack of investment in infrastructure, competition in the market, and inefficient taxation, amongst other policy and regulatory obstacles, as being major constraints to reducing prices.

It claims the internet as being an essential source of information and services for all and advocates an open, competitive broadband and telecommunications market, regulated by an independent agency. Particular attention is paid to internet freedom and the rights of online expression. [3]

It works closely with governments and local stakeholders in Africa, Asia and Latin America on policy and regulatory reform through a combination of advocacy, research and knowledge-sharing activities.[1]

Launch[edit]

The initiative was officially launched on October 7, 2013 at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum in Abuja, Nigeria.[4] The launch was covered by many news sources.[5][6][7][8]

Reception[edit]

A4AI was briefly discussed in relation to Internet.org, a Facebook-led initiative for Internet accessibility, by David Talbot in an article for Technology Review.[9]

Criticism[edit]

Michael Gurstein wrote a critical article about A4AI in which he raised concern that the organisation was more about encouraging Less Developed Countries (LDC) to adopt neo-liberal policies than actually getting "affordable access". Quoting their documentation he says that they advocate a set of "guiding principles" for adoption as policy and regulatory practice by the LDCs. These, he argues, all rest on neo-liberal assumptions, rather than allowing them to be tested alongside other ways of looking at things. Whilst these guidelines include an evidence based approach, Gurstein argues that if all the research is carried out on neo-liberal assumptions the results will be highly pre-determined by the input principles. He raises concern that this approach will allow for private companies to exploit making developments in the more readily reliable markets of the urban environment, while extending such services to less viable rural markets will be left to inadequately funded public initiatives. He further points to the championing of the use of Universal Service Fund facilities, a structure promoted by the World Bank which often attract million or even billion dollar budgets but where control is retained by private service providers and which often do not match local needs. This leads to his claim that a major priority for A4AI is that LDC governments adopt neo-liberal policies as outlined in their guiding principles.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Vision and Strategy". Alliance for Affordable Internet. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Members". Alliance for Affordable Internet. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ Spore. "Internet access for all: Interview with Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of A4AI" (PDF). CTA. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Joining forces to adPigeon JOY Unlimited 1.8DX 1.8 L Rice Cookerfthhhvocate for a more affordable Internet". Google.org. October 7, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. (October 7, 2013). "Internet for all: Alliance for Affordable Internet founded". ZDNet. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ Ferenstein, Gregory (October 7, 2013). "The Internet Costs 30% Of Monthly Wages In Some Nations. Google Wants To Help.". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Alliance For Affordable Internet". Huffington Post. October 7, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Google, Facebook Back Effort to Make Internet Affordable for All". Mashable. October 7, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ Talbot, David (December 17, 2013). "Facebook's Two Faces". Technology Review. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  10. ^ Gurstein, Michael. "A4AI: Who Could Oppose a More Affordable Internet? The Alliance for an Affordable Internet (A4AI) and the Neo-liberal Stealth Campaign to Control the Internet Throughout the Developing World and Make Big Bucks for the Private Sector While Doing So". Gurstein's Community Informatics. Michael Gurstein. Retrieved 21 March 2016.