BasicInternet:FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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In order to Connect the Unconnected people of the World, the Basic Internet Foundation established the concept Internet Lite for All, the free access to information for everyone:

  • the Foundation supports the Fremium model for Internet access, with free access to text, pictures and local video, and paid access to broadband and streaming services;
  • the Foundation works for optimised content delivery on capacity-limited networks through low cost infrastructure, addressing areas with low admission and/or no Internet coverage.
  • the Foundation assists organisations and companies to adapt and disseminate information to everyone, and thus empower underprivileged societies;
  • the Foundation performs research and development to achieve free access to information as part of sustainable infrastructures.
This FAQ will address questions related to both societal impact, market, business and technology.

Societal Impact

Q: Why does the Foundation address digital access?

A: Digital access is a human right. However, UN data shows that of the world's 7 billion people, 4.2 billion are still without regular Internet access. Foundation’s vision is to provide free Internet access to basic information for everyone on the globe, by creating and promoting the “Information-Internet” (InfoInternet). The InfoInternet is “just information, nothing else”, or in technology terms, the focus on (compressed) text and pictures.
We believe that addressing the digital access will help tackle wider global social issues, support business and economic growth, and close the inequalities gaps.

Q: What is the relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2030)

A: Basic Internet Foundation consists of advisors, and partners having an excellent expertise in the fields of digital access, content management, core competence in health and education for SDG 3 and 4, and understand the business of digital access. Through its vision and projects, the Foundation promotes the digital access and the need for free access as building blocks to achieve SDG 3 and 4.

Q: What type of digital inequalities are we facing in the society?

A: We live in societies in which inequality is ignored in education, science, business, economy, and in the media. As Internet technologies are rapidly evolving and new digital divides emerge, we must tackle socio-cultural differences, focus on technological infrastructure, Internet skills, literacies and digital media usage. From our own research in the field, we have identified that core issues and digital inequality challenges: access to information and Internet, skills (to be able to use information and Internet), privacy and trust, and motivation of the use. Digital inclusion is about overcoming these challenges and working on a solid structured programmes and projects.

Q: What is the impact of digital inclusion?

A: The impact of digital inclusion is overcoming the challenges in access, skills, security and trust, and motivation. Implementing digital inclusion by provisioning of free basic Internet and customised content for education and health, thus creating the basis for growing business and social inclusion. With the current societal changes that are perceived in developing economies, we aim at bringing digital inclusion and thus social and financial inclusion to people with low income through collaboration between the Basic Internet Foundation and partners. Through this collaboration we will gain social and economic development, boost the economic growth and contribute to lessening the present digital divide and achieving the gender equality. The government, Ministries, and its partners already do a lot to help promote digital inclusion; however this is not enough and having the impact it needs to.


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Market

Q: Which market do you address?

A: We address the people who don’t have mobile broadband network coverage, or don’t have the ability to pay for the access. Building spot-wise Information access is less costly than building mobile broadband service, and is seen as the entry point for digital literacy.

Q: What is your relation to mobile operators and others providing access?

A: We work together with operators, and use their mobile networks to access the Internet. Our focus is on people who are left-aside by the traditional, revenue-oriented roll-out. We want to reach everyone in the society, and empower everyone to be part of the digital society. That's why we build Wifi hot-spots with free access to information. People need to come to these spots to get information.

Q: What to you think about Facebook and Free Basics?

A: We appreciate a lot the work Facebook is doing in providing access to the Internet. Free Basics has given so many people an opportunity to get connected. Though, Free Basics raises concern with respect to Network Neutrality (Net Neutrality) and Data colonisation. According to the Internet Society, Net Neutrality means that all content should be treated equally. Having a company deciding what is free and what needs to be paid for is in conflict with the Net Neutrality principles.
The second concern is data colonisation. Every click you perform is first going to Facebook, and helps the company to collect data about you. This privacy concern was the background why India has banned Free Basics, and why the European Parliament initiated the Data Protection regulation (GDPR).

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Business

Q: How do you earn money?

A: We are a Foundation. That means, every cent being acquired goes back into connecting the unconnected. We work through projects, being funded externally. We also receive donations and direct support from individuals and companies.

Q: Do you have a sustainable business model for the operation of the Information Spots?

A: Our goal is to make the Information Spots to become sustainable. By selling vouchers people can access broadband services like movies and games. Given an example from Tanzania, a hot-spot with 10 GByte per months has operational costs of 35 000 TZS (~13.5 € or 15 US$) per month. This basis costs need to be either provided through funds, as in-kind support for regional development, as governmental activity or through community funding.

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Technology

Q: How can I start?

A: Please have a look at our example installations mentioned in our blog, especially the Installation in Izazi.
Our way of installing the hot-spot has 6 steps, described in Establishing an Information Spot:
1. measure the available networks from the operators
2. identify the direction of closest tower
3. measure field strength and technology
4. create a map with buildings and distances
5. purchase and configure the infrastructure
6. installation on the site

Q: How does Opera, Opera Turbo/Opera Mini work?

A: We have implemented a proxy separating the traffic between “InfoInternet” and “Internet”. We use both the Opera Mini Proxy and the googleweblight.com for free access to information. If you know about other proxies, please let us know.

Q: Regarding the vouchers?

A: Yes, we have implemented a system such that you can “order” any kind of time and capacity, e.g. 1 day with 100 MByte, 1 hour free, …. The system is up and running, and Iñaki can provide you with access to order vouchers. (we have used the vouchers both in DRC and in the hospitals here around)
We don’t have voucher restrictions to “whitelisting”, we could not see a business reason for that.

Q: Whitelisting?

A: Whitelisting is used for “free access” to basic information. Whitelisting is per IP domain (“sub-network”), which means that you can adopt to the wishes of your customer. Example: we can have free access to “Mærsk” for one customer, and to “Red Hat” on other sub-networks. Whitelisting is only active in “Opera Mini” mode - not when vouchers are used.

Q: Restrictions on streaming elements?

A: Having streaming elements as premium services is the goal of “BasicInternet”. To build a proxy which translates all “dynamic Web pages” into “Information Internet”, being compressed text and pictures as information bearer.
Thus, for a proxy such as Opera Mini, would be the answer, and might come through http2 standardisation as server-side compression.
The challenge is encryption, as any https: access is “blind” for the proxy, and would need deep packet inspection to filter out dynamic elements. This is a cumbersome business, and the reason why we favour the “proxy” solution.

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On the Foundation

Q: Who runs the Basic Internet Foundation?

A: The Basic Internet Foundation is run by a team of experts, with Prof. Josef Noll as Secretary General and his team of experts. See more in About on BasicInternet.info. The main expertise is gathered through the international collaboration with partners.

Q: Where is the Foundation based?

A: The headquarter is located at Kjeller, Norway, just outside of Oslo. Kjeller has an impressive history related to the Internet and Telecoms:
  • Internet (Arpanet) reached Europe in 1973, and the first node was at Kjeller
  • Pål Spilling and Yngvar Lundh were
  • The GSM standard was developed from around 1985 under guidance of Televerkets Forskningsinstitutt, which became later Telenor Research, at Kjeller
  • Opera Software (with the Opera Mini browser) by Jon von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy, two Telenor Fellows, started in 1993 and became a company in 1995
  • The Basic Internet Foundation was founded in 2014


Q: Who funds the Basic Internet Foundation?

A: The Basic Internet Foundation is funded by support from people, organisations, and project activities. Organisational support is provided by University of Oslo and Partners. Project activities are a.o. the Digital Inclusion project in Tanzania and Mali, the Caritas Kinderdorf.


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Involvement and Help

Q: How can I help?

A: Join us by
- promoting Connect the Unconnected
- support Access to Villages
- contribute to Village Information Spots
- add your Content for Empowerment and Sustainability
- provide Your Ideas
- contribute with Your Work
Through cooperation and community empowerment we can facilitate Connecting the Unconnected. Join now and get involved!