Stories from Abroad

Since 2010, the Benton Foundation and the New America Foundation have partnered to highlight telecommunications debates from countries outside the U.S.

Advancing Meaningful Connectivity: Towards Active and Participatory Digital Societies

This report advances the Meaningful Connectivity framework as a way to support more inclusive societies and strengthen digital economies. It measures the gap in the number of people with just basic internet access and those with meaningful connectivity and examines what this digital divide means for people’s online experiences. The framework focuses on four pillars: 4G-like speeds, smartphone ownership, daily use, and unlimited access at a regular location, like home, work, or a place of study.

Musk says SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service activated in Ukraine amid Russian invasion

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the company's Starlink satellite internet service has been activated in Ukraine amid the Russian invasion into the country. This comes as internet outages have been reported in parts of Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict. SpaceX has a network of almost 2,000 low-orbit satellites that help get internet to remote areas around the world.

European Commission takes on SpaceX and Amazon with its own satellite internet system

The European Commission has approved plans for a €6 billion satellite internet system to compete with the likes of Amazon and SpaceX, despite previous objections from its internal watchdog. Brussels’ initiative to provide encrypted broadband coverage was twice rejected by the European Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board. The board, which vets impact assessments for proposals put forward by the commission, believed the scheme would waste money and compete with commercial services.

Cassava Technologies works to bring better internet to African countries

Much of Africa has gotten a taste of the internet thanks to cellular technology, but high-speed access remains scarce on the continent thanks to a lack of consumer spending power and a fractured, unreliable power grid. Cassava Technologies, a spinout of an African telecommunications firm, aims to change that equation. Africa is home to 54 countries and 1.3 billion people and covers an area larger than India, China and Western Europe combined. That's too big a chunk of the planet to be stuck with spotty, expensive internet access. Much of the continent now has cellular access.

Europe pitches tech ‘principles’ to rule the internet

Europe is putting its foot down on how it wants the internet to run. The European Commission presented its so-called Digital Decade Principles aimed at defining the 27-country bloc’s vision of how the digital economy should abide by values such as democracy, privacy, solidarity, freedom of choice and security.

Facebook Promised Poor Countries Free Internet. People Got Charged Anyway.

Facebook says it’s helping millions of the world’s poorest people get online through apps and services that allow them to use the internet data-free. Internal company documents show that many of these people end up being charged in amounts that collectively add up to an estimated millions of dollars a month. To attract new users, Facebook made deals with cellular carriers in countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines to let low-income people use a limited version of Facebook and browse some other websites without data charges.

Facebook’s second life: the unstoppable rise of the tech company in Africa

Facebook has two benefits for businesses – not only in Africa, but for all emerging markets. The first is ease of access. The second benefit is its analytics function. Businesses can see who shares their content and how it spreads. But, for many people, Facebook is not only indispensable but unavoidable. Across Africa, Facebook is the internet. Businesses and consumers depend heavily on it because access to the app and site are free on many African telecoms networks, meaning you don’t need any phone credit to use it.

European Parliament Passes Digital Markets Act

The European Parliament passed the Digital Markets Act to ensure a level playing field for all digital companies, regardless of their size. The regulations will lay down clear rules for big platforms - a list of “dos” and “don’ts” - which aim to stop them from imposing unfair conditions on businesses and consumers. Such practices include ranking services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself higher than similar services or products offered by third parties on the gatekeeper's platform or not giving users the possibility of uninstalling any preinstalled software or app.

Measuring digital development: Facts and figures 2021

A new report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), reveals strong global growth in Internet use, with the estimated number of people who have used the Internet surging to 4.9 billion in 2021, from an estimated 4.1 billion in 2019. This comes as good news for global development. However, ITU data confirms that the ability to connect remains profoundly unequal. An estimated 37 percent of the world's population – or 2.9 billion people – have still never used the Internet.

Big Tech firms should pay ISPs to upgrade networks, telcos in Europe claim

The CEOs of 13 large European telecommunications companies called on tech giants—presumably including Netflix and other big US companies—to pay for a portion of the Internet service providers' network upgrade costs.