Why aren’t traditional networks doing more to connect the unconnected?

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Around the world, there are almost 4 billion people who can’t connect to the internet.

Now, for most of us, not having an internet connection might mean working offline for the day, missing the next episode of whatever we’re bingeing right now or — whisper it — talking to other people in real life.

But for many people around the world, not having an internet connection is a much more serious problem.

Not being connected, for 3.7 billion people, means:

💳 Not being able to get a bank account
🤳 Not having access to digital forms of identification
💸 Not being able to apply for microloans or finance
👪 Not being able to communicate with friends and family
🎓 Not having access to online learning or ways to better themselves
💼 Not having access to business and networking opportunities
🌍 Not being able to stay connected with local and world news
👨‍⚕️ Not having access to the latest government advice on health

In fact, internet access has become so fundamental to a fair and equal society that the UN General Assembly passed a non-binding Resolution in 2016 declaring “internet access a human right.”

(However, this non-binding resolution fell short of making sure that everybody is provided with internet access, instead focusing on making sure governments are not allowed to take it away.)

So, why aren’t traditional networks connecting the unconnected?

Since 2001, traditional network operators have had the ability and the budget to use 3G technology to deliver wireless Internet access anywhere in the world.

Why haven’t they?

Well, to put it simply, because it’s too expensive.

With their current technology — which is expensive and out of date — it takes approximately 2 years to get any return on investment. (That’s according to the World Economic Forum.)

And for companies that rely on investors and report to shareholders in boardrooms, that just isn’t good enough.

So they haven’t bothered.

And as a result, 3.7 billion people (that’s the same as the population of the entire world in 1970) still don’t have access to the things we take for granted, like being able to talk to family and friends around the world, learn things from YouTube, get a bank account, start a global business, get involved in global commerce…

That’s why we’re on a mission to change things

We’re on a mission to connect the unconnected and bridge the digital divide, unlocking the life-changing potential the internet provides to billions of people around the world.

In fact, the IT branch of the UN, the ITU, said that connectivity had been “the hidden hero” of the COVID-19 crisis, helping get up-to-date public health information around the world quickly to keep people safe.

They also added:

But billions of people around the world still have no connectivity at all. In addition, many hundreds of millions more struggle with access that is too slow, too costly, and too unreliable to have made a meaningful difference to their lives during this crisis.

Bridging the gap isn’t just about business opportunities and social progress.

It’s about making sure everybody in the world has access to the one thing that can simultaneously keep them connected to families and support networks, improve their lives and keep them safe.

How we’re connecting the whole world 🎈

Instead of trying to connect the world with traditional, expensive ground-based infrastructures like cell phone towers and cables, we’ve found a different approach…

Balloons.

Well, a mesh network of balloons to be exact, sitting high up in the sky and delivering high-speed internet to areas that need it the most. Down below, Earth Nodes and Air Nodes use the blockchain to track the usage of each user and calculate rewards for the node owners. (Here’s a 2-minute explainer video that breaks it all down.)

And it works.

It really works.

In fact, this technology is so good that one balloon can deliver high-speed internet to a 75km radius. (It would only take 20 balloons to cover the entire United Kingdom.)

Using innovation to make an impact in Tanzania

In Tanzania, there’s a village that’s only accessible via dirt roads. On top of that, it often falls victim to flash flooding and the nearest town is hours away.

Unsurprisingly, they’ve been left offline by traditional telecom operators.

But that wasn’t going to stop us.

Using our mesh network, we put the village on the grid for the first time, giving them access to business opportunities, social connections and a direct line to the rest of the world.

A sharing economy: the missing piece of the puzzle

We’re not the first project to use balloons and mesh networks to try and connect the unconnected.

Google Loon famously had great success and pioneered new tech to connect the unconnected. It provided access during emergencies, connected people for 9 years and managed to launch commercially in Kenya.

However, as they noted, “the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped.”

Even with technology that’s roughly 95x cheaper than the way traditional networks provide connectivity and the backing of one of world’s biggest tech giants, it still wasn’t enough.

That’s the problem with a centralised approach to the problem: you’re answering to one group of stakeholders, one group of investors, and when they’re not sold anymore or they get cold feet, the project dies.

That’s why we’ve decentralized the way we’re tackling the digital divide.

World Mobile isn’t another network owned and operated by people in boardrooms. It’s a mobile network, built on the blockchain, and owned by the people.

People in remote villages can use our open-source software, buy off-the-shelf tech and start their own nodes for less than $5000.

Local businesses in remote areas can look after nodes and earn more than double the yearly salary by providing local coverage.

And $WMT token holders can stake their tokens to secure our network, earn and get involved in an industry previously closed off to individuals.

But the real value of World Mobile is you, our community.

Sure, we’ve put together a team of telecoms veterans, regulators, lawmakers, world-class blockchain engineers, and tech operators to help build a global network that lasts.

But Airbnb would be nowhere without people renting out their homes.

Uber would be nowhere without people driving their own cars.

And World Mobile would be nowhere without you.

Because the growth of the network is driven by the communities that need connectivity the most, we don’t have to rely on a centralised network operator in an office in New York or London. We can deploy quickly and connect the unconnected.

Because local communities and businesses can invest, become node operators and earn a share in the profits, which means we don’t have to speak to our board of stakeholders every time we want to connect the unconnected.

And because, all around the world, people can stake their WMT tokens to support the network and earn a reward from every transaction made on the network, we don’t need to seek outside investments that want control of our progress.

In other words, because of our community, we get to focus on connecting the unconnected, bridging the divide and creating a mobile network that helps the world connect, collaborate and earn at the same time.

Want to help us connect the unconnected? Get involved!

World Mobile is a network built by the people, for the people, using blockchain technology to provide power, connectivity and identity to billions around the world.

Here’s how you can get involved:

📚 Read more: check out our whitepaper

👀 See the difference you can make: check out our smart village

🎈 Learn more about our network: https://linktr.ee/worldmobile

🤝 Get involved: own a node and earn rewards by buying WMT

Jack Barclay
Jack is a freelance copy strategist that works with companies using blockchain to make the world a better place. At World Mobile, he helps us shape our messaging, spread the word and make sure we’re making it as easy as possible to know exactly how to get involved with connecting the unconnected.