Connecting the unconnected = Access + Openness + Inclusion + Innovation at the edges

This week, we were inspired and honored to participate in Global Connect – a two-day multi-stakeholder workshop in Washington D.C., organized by IEEE, Internet Society, People Centered Internet, and the World Bank Group. The goal of session was to find innovative technical solutions for addressing the challenges of providing Internet access to 1.5 billion people by 2020.

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Our Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker gave a rousing lightening talk and challenged the audience to imagine the ideal the human experience for getting online, and to examine how we can create product solutions and business models that take into account the myriad challenges of affordability, digital literacy, and relevant content. Mitchell made clear that connecting the unconnected must go beyond just infrastructure, “it is a combination of access, openness, and inclusion … After a region comes online, or the fiber is lit up, the cell towers are there, and the village is connected, what is the actual human experience? How much openness is there? How much opportunity to build, to explore, and eventually to create new things?” The backbone for her speech (and for all of Mozilla) is an unyielding belief that we must bring people online to the full richness of the open Internet.

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Mitchell gave a preview of the mission of the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge: to inspire new ideas and grow new communities of problem-solvers through this open call for solutions. (Incidentally, Mitchell had proposed this open innovation approach in the first Global Connect meeting in April 2016.)

We are energized by Mitchell’s call to action and hope you are too. There is no silver bullet to bringing everyone online. Instead, it will take a diverse set of actors working together, and with the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge, we’re extending an invitation for you to join us in tackling this great challenge of our time!