We take Internet access for granted – yet 4.3 billion people still cannot browse the world's largest digital library due to the financial barriers of expensive infrastructure and data tariffs. CEO of Outernet Syed Karim, however, has a vision of a world where this library of information is accessible to all.
Outernet has been working for the past 8 of years to build a radically different world where censored, rural, or economically destitute communities, where information access by conventional means is impossible, will become available via a free content broadcast system that is reusable under open licenses in the public domain. "The lottery of where you are born, and therefore what information you have the rights to access, will eventually be canceled out by Outernet," said Thane Richard, Outernet Publisher and COO.
This week, Outernet will launch their first piece of hardware called the ‘Lighthouse Reciever’, allowing individuals anywhere in the world to receive a stream of information broadcasted like a one-way satellite channel to individuals regardless of infrastructure or connectivity. This marks a major leap in uncensored information access for all continents of the world. Receivers can be built by individuals using the open source plans maintained by a community or already-made models can be purchased directly from Outernet on their online store.
Mobile phones have already transformed the lives of rural farmers in the global south by allowing them access to market prices, led to citizen advocacy efforts where missed calls logged as signatures on a petition and are more prevalent today than toilets.
The next revolution will come as the global south does more than embrace mobile but becomes connected to an open source global library. Only then will the information we take for granted become truly democratized regardless of race, class, geography or access.
"Broadcasting data offline is a better way to bypass censorship and to distribute knowledge," said Syed Karim, Outernet CEO. "Imagine what our world and global economy can accomplish when education is truly universal. Today we are one step closer to living in that world."