Small is Beautiful: Telecommunications as if people mattered, with Steve Song

Slightly more than half of the world is connected to the internet but the growth of affordable access infrastructure in rural areas in general and poorer countries in particular has begun to slow. The pandemic has revealed the importance of affordable internet access for ALL citizens but current market strategies and regulation have not succeeded in creating affordable internet for all. This talk will look at the evolution of access technologies and regulation in the last 20 years with a focus on the African continent and highlight alternative access strategies that can lead to a future in which the internet is accessible and affordable for all citizens.

Steve Song is a researcher, entrepreneur, and advocate for cheaper, more pervasive access to communication infrastructure. He is currently a Fellow at the Mozilla Foundation as well as a research associate with the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) where he works to expand the use of wireless technologies through shared spectrum strategies. His blog (http://manypossibilities.net​) a popular destination for anyone interested in African telecommunications and Internet issues. Since 2009, Steve has been actively maintaining public maps of undersea and terrestrial fibre optic infrastructure in Africa. Steve is also the founder of Village Telco, a social enterprise that manufactures low-cost WiFi mesh VoIP technologies to deliver affordable voice and Internet service in under-serviced areas. Previously, Steve worked at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), where he led the organization’s ICT4D program in Africa, funding research into the transformational potential of ICTs.