One principle we have used a Spectrum Futures is that to bring the Internet to “everybody” in South Asia and Southeast Asia, fast, the whole ecosystem will have to work together. By definition, every cost, anywhere in the ecosystem, is paid by end users. That is tough.
Most costs within the value chain also are revenue items for other parts of the ecosystem. So there is inherent tension between ecosystem participants. Internet.org is trying to tackle at least one element of the “cost to supply” problem, namely the amount of bandwidth required to support users.
Lots of steps can be taken to rapidly make Internet accessible to everyone. One step you do not hear much about is “bandwidth efficiency.”
As part of its creation of an Internet.org platform open to all developers, the organization argues that “to sustainably deliver free basic internet services to people, we need to build apps that use data very efficiently,” Internet.org said.
And “efficiency” will run counter to some trends common to the visual web and app world. “Websites that require high-bandwidth will not be included,” Internet.org says. “Services should not use VoIP, video, file transfer, high resolution photos, or high volume of photos.”
That focus is based on a view that networks providing very low cost or free access will have bandwidth constraints.
Operators have made significant economic investments to bring the internet to people globally, and Internet.org needs to be sustainable for operators so that they can continue to invest in the infrastructure to maintain, improve and expand their networks.
Once upon a time, all coding operated in a constrained environment, where processing, memory and bandwidth were limited. Over time, that has ceased to be a key concern for most developers.
But apps intended for use by people who cannot pay much, using networks that are bandwidth challenged, benefit from efficient apps. It has been a long time since that mattered. And it is a refreshing approach to cost managment within the ecosystem.