With approximately 45% of the world lacking access to the internet, companies are providing unconventional solutions to get people connected.
An estimated 4.2B people had reliable internet access as of June 2018, accounting for approximately 55% of the world’s total population at the time, according to Internet World Stats.
Even as global internet penetration grows, much of this access is concentrated in the world’s most developed regions. For example, 95% of the population in North America and 85% in Europe has reliable internet access. On the other hand, only 49% of the population in Asia and just 36% in Africa has access to similar services.
Tech giants like Google and Facebook have attempted (but in many cases have struggled) to bring internet access to low-penetration regions. In some cases, traditional telcos and governments have stepped in to meet the demand for connectivity.
But large, incumbent organizations aren’t the only ones looking to bridge the connectivity divide — startups are making waves in the space as well.
Internet access startups are offering a diversity of approaches, from floating cell towers to launching tiny satellites to low-cost public Wi-Fi networks. Some have raised large sums of funding to tackle the issue, while others are taking a much leaner approach.
Using CB Insights data, we surfaced 9 notable, private companies connecting people in underserved regions. Many are focused on specific parts of Africa or Asia, but the majority of these organizations hope to expand their services around the world.