According to the United Nations, almost half of the world still does not have access to the internet. This is known as the digital divide between those who have mobile network and internet access, and those who don’t have access. With the world becoming more reliant on the internet, those without access would be left behind economically and socially.
Bridging the digital divide by providing mobile networks and internet access would lead to improving the economic growth of a region, and improving social mobility and economic equality.
The World Bank estimates that on average, developing countries’ internet penetration rate is around 35%, compared to developed countries of 80% and by raising internet penetration to 75% in developing countries “would add as much as US$2 trillion to their collective gross domestic product (GDP) and create more than 140 million jobs around the world“.
The situation is even more dire in Middle Africa, where according to sources, only 26% of the population have access to the internet in 2021.
Solving the digital divide has always been elusive due to two factors: high infrastructure costs to fund rural, remote, or sparsely populated areas due to the existing technologies which rely on centralized systems, and the lack of funding as a result of high infrastructure costs.
However, this digital divide can now be tackled with the advent of new technologies, and the man behind the resolve and the new technology is the one who gave the world the WiFi technology we use today.
One man who is determined to end the digital divide is Dr Hatim Zaghloul. Canadians, Dr. Zaghloul, and his friend Dr. Michel Fattouche changed the world once when they solved the problems around high-speed mobile communications and invented high-speed WiFi as we know it today which enabled the speed in 3G, 4G and 5G. Their patented technologies under Wi-LAN Inc. are still the backbone of wireless communication.
Dr. Zaghloul led Wi-LAN Inc., Cell-Loc Inc., and others into their initial public offerings and led Wi-LAN in raising funds 6 times. Wi-LAN and Cell-Loc were the top two performers in Canada in 2000.
His latest technology is a proprietary blockchain platform named InoChain, combined with wireless mesh network technology, InoMesh can put an end to the digital divide by providing affordable broadband internet access to remote areas. Research into these technologies is done in both Egypt and Pakistan by Inovatian Inc. which owns the technologies.
He believes that there are a lot of investors out there who are looking for projects that not only give them good returns but also create meaningful social change.
Based on his interview with Wired Middle East, Dr. Zaghloul is quoted saying, “I’ve talked to suppliers like Nokia and Huawei and there’s a general agreement that 6G will incorporate blockchain. We will be decentralizing the network in 6G. Where we differ is that they want to make 6G something like 1 terabit per second. That’s wonderful, but that’s not gonna help Africa… Once again, we’ll build another standard and they’re left out,” says Zaghloul. “I thought if we made a standard, or a version of the standard that says ‘if you have wifi on your device, we will give you full services,’ then we’d bring these people to the fore, to the modern world.”
The solution for Africa is a mix of 4G for outdoors and WiFi for indoor and stationary users; giving the users the best of both worlds. Ubiquitous coverage through 4G and cheap coverage through WiFi.
While most other initial coin offerings (ICO) utilize the Ethereum platform, this new cryptocurrency is set to launch on its own blockchain platform, backed by a real-world business and with a social purpose.
The cryptocurrency – Futira Coin – is the subject of an ICO targeted for launch by the end of 2021. Simply put, this is a kind of cryptocurrency fundraiser. The Futira Coin sale is to support Inovatian’s establishment of integrated operator network systems in Middle Eastern and Middle African countries in order to provide cost-effective internet access to rural and remote areas.
The Futira Coin will be launched via Futira SRO of Slovakia which is licensed to issue and operate a crypto exchange as well as a crypto wallet.
While satellite connectivity can improve the digital divide by bringing the internet via a satellite in a remote area, it is still costly. The real issue is the distribution of the internet network on the ground, the “last mile”, which can be costly if centralized network infrastructure is used to service a sparse population in a remote area.
Satellite services like StarLink and OneWeb are excellent solutions except for the problem of collection. These same unconnected people do not have any means of paying for the satellite services.
Hence, lack of mobile networks or lack of internet access is not just confined to developing countries but also occurs in remote areas of developed countries. According to the World Economic Forum, 6% of the population in the US and 13% of the population in Australia do not have high-speed internet.
A new technology based on blockchain is able to provide low-cost internet infrastructure much needed in remote areas and low-income countries.
The low-cost technology to connect users on the ground to the internet is based on its proprietary mesh network, InoMesh, which acts as the wifi routers controlled by its proprietary blockchain technology, InoChain.
InoMesh is an economical way of providing WiFi as it uses a single point of the internet, which is then distributed via a network of access points while maintaining the speed, unlike traditional methods. InoMesh acts as both the receiver and transmitter of data to other users, which is controlled by an InoChain computer.
As subscribers both receive and transmit data to other users, subscribers who consume less data than they transmit can also earn credit.
The InoChain computer connects to the global internet via a satellite or the closest network tower. InoMesh is suitable for implementation in malls, compounds, university campuses, temporary sites, in rural and remote areas.
Unlike many other blockchains that rely on the Ethereum blockchain, FutiraCoin is based on InoChain proprietary blockchain technology.Its consensus algorithm is based on Proof of Stake (PoS) instead of the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm used by Ethereum, Bitcoin and many other blockchains.
The PoS algorithm provides for a more scalable blockchain with higher transaction throughput as there is no mining involved which makes it a more sustainable technology as not much energy consumption is required.
Proceeds from the sale of the Futira Coin will be to establish the first phase of the telecommunications network will be in the first region (Chad and Mauritania). The cost to fully fund it operationally with infrastructure, installation, implementation and marketing will be USD12 million.
However, the network can initially start with as little as USD100Kto build point to point internet distribution system in Aden.
Hence, the Futira Coin ICO is set at USD12 million for the hard cap and its soft cap at USD100K.
The FutiraCoin will also be used as a utility credit for the user subscription service. This means that when subscribers pay for the network services they are actually buying a tiny portion of the coin which will be deducted as they use their phone to make calls or surf the internet.
As more and more users use the network the price of the coin will go up. However, this only going to benefit the subscribers.
If the price of the coin goes up, the amount of available credit also increases, a user who has bought USD 10 worth of credit might end up with USD 12 or even 15 dollars of credit in a short time frame, with higher multiples over longer time frames. But when the price of the coin goes down, he will still enjoy USD 10 worth of credit or services.
Whenever people lack access to digital connectivity, it deprives them of the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century. Access to digital connectivity really means access to jobs, education & access to markets that otherwise would be out of reach.
Regardless of their location, they have equal opportunities to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty into a dignified standard of living.
In his earlier interview with Wired Middle East, “I’ve always wanted to get communications to everybody and we’re still far from that,” says Dr. Zaghloul. “Unfortunately, the developed countries think of Africa as a market. Africa’s people have aspirations and we want to give them the freedom to choose their life. That’s a passion I’ll always have.”
Farah Ishak is a Content Writer at Halalop. She grew up in the United Kingdom where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Management. Later, she completed her MBA and held senior-level positions in Malaysian based MNC. She left the corporate world to be with her young kids. She is passionate about issues concerning Muslim women, Startups and Muslim businesses in general.
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