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Google.org Provides $4.4M In Grants To The Internet Society And NSRC To Improve Internet Access In Sub-Saharan Africa

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Internet access in many regions in Sub-Saharan Africa is still far from perfect, and a number of non-profits are working to improve this situation by providing technical assistance and working with local organizations to provide services to ISPs. Today, Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, announced that it is providing a total of $4.4 million to the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and the Internet Society (ISOC) to help improve Internet access in this region.

A majority of the $4.4 million ($3.1 million) will go to the Network Startup Resource Center, an organization based at the University of Oregon that trains network engineers and operators who “develop and maintain the Internet infrastructure in their respective countries and regions by providing technical information, engineering assistance, training, donations of networking books, equipment and other resources.” The grant is specifically meant to help the NSRC bring Internet access to students and staff at about 50 schools in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The remaining $1.3 million will go to the Washington D.C.-based Internet Society, which will use it to improve and create Internet Exchange Points (IXP) in emerging markets. Internet service providers use IXPs to exchange traffic between their networks. Because the traffic is directly routed between ISPs, these providers then don’t have to pay a third-party provider to move the data between the two ISPs’ networks. This grant, the Internet Society writes today, will allow it to bring more of these IXPs to providers in emerging markets. This should help local ISPs to work more effectively, which in turn should also drive down end-user cost and increase Internet performance.

“The Internet Society has proved to be one of the most effective institutions in the Internet community,” said Vint Cerf, vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google in a statement today. “I am confident that they will apply their grant wisely to extend their work to increase Internet access for everyone, including those in emerging markets.”

Today’s grant marks Google.org’s second major grant so far this year. In January, Google also provided the Energy Foundation with a $2.56 million grant to support smart grid policy reform.