Internet Access Should be Free for Education and Nonprofits

The thoughts behind this post came up when a colleague of mine pointed me to an “ngo-in-a-box” collection of software and my negative reaction to the Linux operating system and software that needed to be installed and configured (who has time to deal with all of that?). Then, I realized that I live in a bubble where high-speed access is ubiquitous and I can afford it. This is hardly the case in places where the world’s poorest live (like Sudan).

Even then, in my experience working in Sudan, cloud computing with limited access is more efficient for communication and getting things done than desktop software.

If cloud computing is the next big thing for nonprofits, and I truly believe that it is, then we need ISPs to step up and donate or severely discount service to nonprofits. With access to high-speed internet and donations/discounts from Google Apps and Salesforce, we remove all technological barriers to running an efficient and transparent org.

Salesforce and Google have defined corporate philanthropy for technology companies, and enjoy great admiration for their efforts. We need Comcast, et al. to step up and contribute. Massive corporations can help solve massive problems with little in the way of lost revenue and no new infrastructure requirements.

Of course, the natural extension of this is that access, at this point, should arguably be a human right. Internet access is the new gatekeeper – it holds the keys to a level playing field and all people should have the ability to open doors for themselves.

We’ll table that discussion for another day, and pick the low hanging fruit. Nonprofits are working hard to change the world for the better. They deserve to have free high-speed internet access, where it is available, at no cost. (Yes, even the ones fighting service providers for net neutrality.)

I want to give credit and thanks to mobilecitizen.org which has teamed with Clear to provide wireless broadband to education and nonprofits at a significantly reduced cost. Kudos!

If you know of any other ISPs that are providing nonprofits with free or discounted access please leave a comment!

Take care,
Nick

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2 Comments on “Internet Access Should be Free for Education and Nonprofits”

  1. Marc Baizman says:

    Nick, totally agree that ISPs should be providing discounted or free internet access to NGOs. However, in developing countries often the telcos are run by (or have major ties to) the local government, and large international NGOs (Oxfam and the like) pay through the nose to get their offices wired to the fastest available capacity. These NGOs are cash cows for them, and they would not like to see that revenue stream disappear.

    On another note, Dreamhost (http://www.dreamhost.com) offers free web hosting to nonprofits. I’ve been using them for a long time (10+ years) and they’ve had their issues, but I think they’ve come a long way and are a great host to consider.

    Just my 0.02.

    • nickhbailey says:

      Thanks for your comment Marc!

      I know too well the outrageous cost of access in regions with limited connectivity. But, in places where the infrastructure is laid, it should be free.

      Thanks for the heads up on Dreamhost… I’ll have to give them a second look!

      Take care,
      Nick


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