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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.
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Should internet be free for everyone? A Global Stage debate

Half of the world's population is currently offline, and COVID has further widened the digital gap. Providing more than three billion people with affordable, reliable internet access sounds like a no-brainer, but the devil is in the details. Who'll pay for it, how do we measure success, who should be on board, and what are the potential benefits?

Several experts weighed in during a Global Stage virtual conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft during the 76th UN General Assembly, moderated by the UN's Melissa Fleming.


Don't miss our latest event: LIVE on Wednesday Sept 22 11am ET/ 8 am PT:

Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

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Watch our discussion to decide: should internet access be free?

Access to the internet is a universal right.

Broadband should be free.

Tech companies should foot the bill.

Discuss.

GZERO Media and Microsoft will convene proponents, skeptics, and fence-sitters to debate whether the internet should be free on the next Global Stage event.

Make up your mind in our event September 15th at 11am ET/8am PT.

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