Internet, regarded as one of the greatest inventions of humankind, has expanded its reach to almost all sectors that we encounter in our day to day life. From interconnected LAN networks to WiFi and 4G the internet has made rapid strides when it comes to technological growth and also in terms of ease of access. However, statistics shows that one-third of the world population is yet to experience the benefits of the internet because of infrastructure limitations and restrictions imposed by various countries. The requirement of huge investment has prevented the countries from developing the infrastructure. Of late, the IT industry started providing low-cost WiFi connectivity to these regions, hoping that with faster internet connectivity there business can flourish in any market.
During 2009-2013, Google launched ‘Project Loon’ to popularize the internet in rural and remote areas. Under this project, several high altitude balloons were used to create an aerial wireless network and provide internet access to nearby areas. The success of this plan inspired several IT other players to follow suit. Last year, a New York-based Non-Profit organization, Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), put forwarded the concept of providing free WiFi connectivity to the whole world using satellites. The concept was termed ‘Outernet’ in which a network of integrated small satellites like CubeSats was launched around the earth to provide free internet to a wide area and thus providing internet to WiFi enabled devices. Currently, modifications are underway to make the services available to all WiFi-enabled devices.
The developed countries have put in place WiFi hotspots in many of their prime spots. Recently, there are reports that a Multi National Company, which has been a pioneer in the IT industry, is initiating a project to create and integrate high-performance WiFi hotspots all over the world, and thereby providing free internet connectivity. If the sources are true, this can be a breakthrough in the history of the internet. However, the telecom companies has already raised their concerns regarding the free internet as they would be facing heavy loss when the customers prefer free WiFi to mobile internet. The telecom providers are protesting against this initiative and has clearly stated that they need to raise the costs for calls, messages etc. to overcome the expected loss.
As there are several concerns regarding net neutrality in modern times, it would be quite difficult for practically implementing the same. Several telecom companies already declared that they would not follow net neutrality and hence the customers needed to pay individually for availing certain social networking websites/applications. Under this scenario, the introduction of free WiFi might sabotage the agendas of telecom companies and hence they are likely to protest against the initiative. Moreover, there are several security concerns regarding free internet and people are still skeptical about the management of the hotspots. Most of them are concerned about the privacy of their personal info as a wide range of malpractices are possible when there is Free WiFi. Anyways we can positively look forward to the day when the whole world can access the free internet.