Meet the 5 Companies Aiming to Bring the Web to 4.3 Billion New People - Visual Capitalist
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Meet the 5 Companies Aiming to Bring the Web to 4.3 Billion New People

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Meet the 5 Companies Aiming to Bring the Web to 4.3 Billion New People

Meet the 5 Companies Aiming to Bring the Web to 4.3 Billion New People

Infographic sponsored by: Datawind

The internet is an essential part of our daily lives, but it is actually only used by a minority of the world’s population. 4.3 billion people across the world do not yet have access to the web.

In fact, there are seven countries where more than 100 million people are not yet connected: Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia.

Internet penetration in developed countries such as the United States and Canada is high, averaging about 74%. However, in some of the world’s most populous regions, only about one in five people have access.

In the coming decades, we will see a great revolution as billions of new people get instant access to knowledge, tools, communication, and opportunities for the first time. A study by Deloitte concludes that bringing internet access to developing countries could boost productivity worldwide by 25%, generate $2.2 trillion in GDP, create 140 million new jobs, and lift 160 million people out of poverty.

The Challenge

With many of the world’s brightest minds and entrepreneurs not yet connected to the web, it remains to be seen what new world-shaping technologies and companies will be born.

However, connecting 4.3 billion people to the grid is no easy feat. Many people with no internet access live in remote areas without infrastructure or even reliable water or power. Solving these issues creates one of the largest and most challenging business opportunities the world has seen.

To succeed, companies must be bold, while thinking bigger and outside of the box. Here are the companies and technologies that will further connect our world:

Big Tech

In 2014, Facebook made $4.8 billion from online ad revenue and Google made $19.1 billion. Together, that comprises 50% of all online ad revenues.

If the worldwide audience for their services grows, that means a much bigger target audience for their services. As a result, both companies have been making big investments to build their networks.

Google is aiming to cover the sky with floating celltowers and solar-powered drones. Project Loon, officially launched as a Google project in 2013, aims to send thousands of high-flying hot air balloons 10-20km into the stratosphere to broadcast internet to the ground over remote areas. The balloons use algorithms to read wind currents and navigate the globe, all while beaming down an internet signal.

Google has broken its own records for flight duration, having a balloon that lasted 187 days in the air, circumnavigating the globe nine times and passing over more than a dozen countries on four continents along the way.

Google also outbid Facebook for Titan Aerospace in 2014 for $60 million. Titan builds the world’s biggest solar powered drones. These can also broadcast internet to the ground, and are described by Google as “exactly where Project Loon was two years ago in development.”

Facebook is also experimenting with satellites and drones. However, the bulk of its operations to expand the internet’s reach are through its newly formed Internet.org initiative founded in 2013. Partnering with telecoms and mobile operators like Microsoft and Samsung, Internet.org has launched apps in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Ghana, and India.

Internet.org provides free access to basic internet services since it is the cost of data is one of the biggest challenges for people to absorb in developing countries. However, Facebook has been criticized for Internet.org because of the practice of zero-rating. Making some services free while having others cost money is at the heart of the debate on net neutrality.

Innovative Technology

Aside from Big Tech, there are other companies taking big steps to bringing the internet to the rest of the planet.

While most of the developed world accesses internet through broadband, the cost of building the infrastructure for such networks make it a less feasible endeavour for most remote regions. That is why 90% of the world does not have fixed broadband access.

Even if it existed, the cost of broadband is very expensive for people in developing countries, costing 27% of monthly gross income on average. However, Datawind has found another way to tackle the problem. Datawind has developed proprietary technology to reduce the amount of data being transmitted over cellular networks by approximately 20X on average.

This allows them to provide internet access to the 93% of the world that does have mobile access mostly through 2G coverage. By turning 1MB of data into 0.05MB and pairing this service with building some of the world’s cheapest tablets and smartphones, Datawind is able to bring internet browsing costs to as low as $0.70 per month.

O3b Networks, backed by Google and HSBC, is solving the traditional problem with satellite networks: latency.

The company has a growing constellation of satellites that orbit the Earth at 8,000km, about 4X closer than traditional geosynchronous satellites. The resulting signal provides internet speeds that rival fiberoptic networks.

BRCK, designed an prototyped in Kenya, is a rugged and portable hotspot that can broadcast WIFI or a cell signal via multiple networks. BRCK has its own power source and can be recharged via solar power. The battery lasts for eight hours in full power mode in the case of blackouts, a common problem in Africa and the developing world.

Conclusion

The internet impacts nearly every aspect of modern society and serves as a powerful economic stimulator. The opportunity to connect 4.3 billion people to the internet is not only a business opportunity, but one that will improve everyone’s standard of living.

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The World’s Most Used Apps, by Downstream Traffic

Of the millions of apps available around the world, just a small handful of the most used apps dominate global internet traffic.

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The World’s Most Used Apps by Downstream Traffic Share

The World’s Most Used Apps, by Downstream Traffic

Of the millions of apps available around the world, just a small handful of the most used apps dominate global internet traffic.

Everything connected to the internet takes bandwidth to view. When you look at something on your smartphone—whether it’s a new message on Instagram or the next few seconds of a YouTube video—your device is downloading the data in the background.

And the bigger the files, the more bandwidth is utilized. In this chart, we break down of the most used apps by category, using Sandvine’s global mobile traffic report for 2021 Q1.

Video Drives Global Mobile Internet Traffic

The biggest files use the most data, and video files take the cake.

According to Android Central, streaming video ranges from about 0.7GB per hour of data for a 480p video to 1.5GB per hour for 1080. A 4K stream, the highest resolution currently offered by most providers, uses around 7.2GB per hour.

That’s miles bigger than audio files, where high quality 320kbps music streams use an average of just 0.12GB per hour. Social network messages are usually just a few KB, while the pictures found on them can range from a few hundred KB for a low resolution image to hundreds of MB for high resolution.

Understandably, breaking down mobile downstream traffic by app category shows that video is on top by a long shot:

CategoryDownstream Traffic Share (2021 Q1)
Video Streaming48.9%
Social Networking19.3%
Web13.1%
Messaging6.7%
Gaming4.3%
Marketplace4.1%
File Sharing1.3%
Cloud1.1%
VPN and Security0.9%
Audio0.2%

Video streaming accounts for almost half of mobile downstream traffic worldwide at 49%. Audio streaming, including music and podcasts, accounts for just 0.2%.

Comparatively, social network and web browsing combined make up one third of downstream internet traffic. Games, marketplace apps, and file sharing, despite their large file sizes, only require one-time downloads that don’t put as big of a strain on traffic as video does.

A Handful of Companies Own the Most Used Apps

Though internet traffic data is broken down by category, it’s worth noting that many apps consume multiple types of bandwidth.

For example, messaging and social network apps, like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat, allow consumers to stream video, social network, and message.

Even marketplace apps like iTunes and Google Play consume bandwidth for video and audio streaming, and together account for 6.3% of total mobile downstream traffic.

But no single app had a bigger footprint than YouTube, which accounts for 20.4% of total global downstream bandwidth.

CategoryTop Apps (Category Traffic)Category Traffic Share
Video StreamingYouTube47.9%
Video StreamingTikTok16.1%
Video StreamingFacebook Video14.6%
Video StreamingInstagram12.1%
Video StreamingNetflix4.3%
Video StreamingOther5.0%
Social NetworkingFacebook50.5%
Social NetworkingInstagram41.9%
Social NetworkingTwitter2.4%
Social NetworkingOdnoklassniki1.9%
Social NetworkingQQ0.7%
Social NetworkingOther2.9%
MessagingWhatsApp31.4%
MessagingSnapchat16.5%
MessagingFacebook VoIP14.3%
MessagingLINE12.1%
MessagingSkype4.1%
MessagingOther21.6%
WebGoogle41.2%
WebOther58.8%

The world’s tech giants had the leading app in the four biggest data streaming categories. Alphabet’s YouTube and Google made up almost half of all video streaming and web browsing traffic, while Facebook’s own app, combined with Instagram and WhatsApp, accounted for 93% of global social networking traffic and 45% of messaging traffic.

Traffic usage by app highlights the data monopoly of tech giants and internet providers. Since just a few companies account for a majority of global smartphone internet traffic, they have a lot more bartering power (and responsibility) when it comes to our general internet consumption.

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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

Smartphones can contain ~80% of the stable elements on the periodic table. This graphic details the critical metals you carry in your pocket.

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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

In an increasingly connected world, smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives.

Over 60% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and smartphone adoption continues to rise in developing countries around the world.

While each brand has its own mix of components, whether it’s a Samsung or an iPhone, most smartphones can carry roughly 80% of the stable elements on the periodic table.

But some of the vital metals to build these devices are considered at risk due to geological scarcity, geopolitical issues, and other factors.

Smartphone PartCritical Metal
Touch Screen indium
Displaylanthanum; gadolinium; praseodymium; europium; terbium; dysprosium
Electronicsnickel, gallium, tantalum
Casingnickel, magnesium
Battery lithium, nickel, cobalt
Microphone, speakers, vibration unit nickel, praseodymium, neodymium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium

What’s in Your Pocket?

This infographic based on data from the University of Birmingham details all the critical metals that you carry in your pocket with your smartphone.

1. Touch Screen

Screens are made up of multiple layers of glass and plastic, coated with a conductor material called indium which is highly conductive and transparent.

Indium responds when contacted by another electrical conductor, like our fingers.

When we touch the screen, an electric circuit is completed where the finger makes contact with the screen, changing the electrical charge at this location. The device registers this electrical charge as a “touch event”, then prompting a response.

2. Display

Smartphones screens display images on a liquid crystal display (LCD). Just like in most TVs and computer monitors, a phone LCD uses an electrical current to adjust the color of each pixel.

Several rare earth elements are used to produce the colors on screen.

3. Electronics

Smartphones employ multiple antenna systems, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi.

The distance between these antenna systems is usually small making it extremely difficult to achieve flawless performance. Capacitors made of the rare, hard, blue-gray metal tantalum are used for filtering and frequency tuning.

Nickel is also used in capacitors and in mobile phone electrical connections. Another silvery metal, gallium, is used in semiconductors.

4. Microphone, Speakers, Vibration Unit

Nickel is used in the microphone diaphragm (that vibrates in response to sound waves).

Alloys containing rare earths neodymium, praseodymium and gadolinium are used in the magnets contained in the speaker and microphone. Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium are also used in the vibration unit.

5. Casing

There are many materials used to make phone cases, such as plastic, aluminum, carbon fiber, and even gold. Commonly, the cases have nickel to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and magnesium alloys for EMI shielding.

6. Battery

Unless you bought your smartphone a decade ago, your device most likely carries a lithium-ion battery, which is charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between the negative (anode) and positive (cathode) electrodes.

What’s Next?

Smartphones will naturally evolve as consumers look for ever-more useful features. Foldable phones, 5G technology with higher download speeds, and extra cameras are just a few of the changes expected.

As technology continues to improve, so will the demand for the metals necessary for the next generation of smartphones.

This post was originally featured on Elements

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