Sign up for GZERO Media's global politics newsletter

Make internet affordable, but not free for all

Free internet for everyone sounds great, but what's really important is for it to be accessible, says Vickie Robinson, head of Microsoft's Airband Initiative to expand broadband access throughout the developing world. The problem, she explains, is that it costs money to build and maintain networks, so no costs for end users could have unintended consequences. "If you have a framework in which the internet is free for all, do we lose some freedoms? Do we lose innovation? Do we lose the use of the internet as a tool for empowerment?" Instead, Robinson would focus only on giving access to people who really need it and can't afford to be online.

Robinson weighed in during a Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft during the 76th UN General Assembly.

Learn more: Should internet be free for everyone? A Global Stage debate

More from Global Stage

The Road to 2030: Getting Global Goals Back on Track | Dec 15 2022 11 am ET/8 am PT | Global Stage | GZERO and Microsoft

The road to 2030

The past two years have brought devastating setbacks for global development goals including poverty reduction, gender equality, and climate action. Live on Thurs 12/15 at 11 am ET, our expert panel will discuss how to get back on a path to greater peace and prosperity.

Kailash Satyarthi: Child labor increased during COVID

The pandemic not only took kids out of school. It also pushed many into the workforce. COVID raised the demand for children as the cheapest source of labor, Nobel laureate and human rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi says during a Global Stage livestream conversation. Indeed, it's the first team we're going back on meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 8 target on ending child labor.

The perils of depending on food imports: UN Foundation chief

We all know there's a global food crisis due to the impact of shortages of Russian and Ukrainian grain, fertilizers, and fuel. But UN Foundation chief Elizabeth Cousens thinks high prices are hurting some countries even more. While addressing famine is the top priority, Cousens says in a Global Stage livestream conversation that the long-term plan should be "laying the foundation for a much more resilient, equitable food system."

No internet, no education, says Vickie Robinson

The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital. But that left behind those offline, widening the digital access gap — with big implications for education. Vickie Robinson, general manager of Microsoft's Airband Initiative, recalls how she dealt with school closing as a mother. Having in-home connectivity helped her children transition from middle to high school with some sense of normalcy. But two-thirds of school-aged kids around the world didn't have that opportunity, she says during a Global Stage livestream conversation.

Focus on Africa: hunger, energy, climate - and the path to growth

Sub-Saharan Africa was on the brink of economic recovery last year. Now, the World Bank expects its growth to slow in 2023. With global inflation on the rise, rising food and fuel costs “actually put lives at risk in a way few other shocks can," says International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior economist Andrew Tiffin.

Is the world on the brink of another global recession?

The global economy's 2023 outlook is ... bleak. Why? Ayhan Kose, the World Bank’s chief economist for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, says that unlike the 2009 and 2020 global recessions, next year's likely slowdown in economic activity — coupled with growing inflation — could be more like the one of 1982, which also came with a string of debt crises.

Digital Equity