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Access

2015

Google and Indian e-commerce group Snapdeal are working on making the Internet in India accessible in local languages, 'via 'light' products that cater for slow and expensive data connections'. Google has already developed a virtual Hindi keyboard, and is now working on improving access in ten other languages. The ultimate aim is to connect hundreds of millions of Indians to the Internet by providing them with relevant local content in languages they can understand.

According to a World Bank blog 'Media (R)evolutions: As Internet access expands, demand for freedom of expression online also increases', a Pew Research Center survey finds that most people in 32 of 38 countries polled say it is important to live in a country where people can use the Internet without government censorship. In spite of an apparent global decline in Internet freedom, 50% of those polled not only still embrace fundamental democratic values, including the right to free speech, but consider them of high importance.

Facebook has launched its Internet.org/Free Basics project in Mexico on the Virgin Mobile network. CEO Zuckerberg wrote that connecting Mexico is 'personally important' to him, and that 'when we build ties between peoples and cultures, we can tear down the walls some try to build in the face of progress'. Nevertheless, the Free Basics project has received extensive criticism, as it is claimed to violate net neutrality principles. 

A new project will construct a cable from South Africa to the Middle East, measuring approximately 10.000 km. The project aims at providing landlocked African countries with affordable access to the Internet by 2017 and to connect the continent to Asia and Europe. 

Ofcom Research has published the International Communications Market Report 2015, which provides comparative international data on the communications sector. Key Internet-related findings include:

  • Households in the UK and France are the most likely to have a fixed broadband.
  • U.S. Internet users spend the most time browsing online on a laptop or desktop, at 34 hours per month, followed by the UK. 
  • The UK had the highest per capita spend on e-commerce in 2014, followed by the U.S. and Sweden.
  • Online banking on a smartphone is most popular in Australia and Sweden, followed by the UK.

The 6th Ministerial Conference on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, which discussed the development of relations between China and African countries, agreed on several Internet-related matters, As can be read in the outcome document, 'the two sides will cooperate with international organisations such as International Telecommunication Union, narrow the digital divide in Africa, and promote the building of an information society in Africa.' Other agreements were made related to enhanced cooperation in cybersecurity and e-commerce.

 

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