The great big project among tech titans today is covering the unconnected world with internet. Google is going for it with its Project Loon program, Facebook is running through drones and satellites trying to make it work, and SpaceX recently detailed massively ambitious plans to do the same.
Why are companies like these dropping billions on such a difficult task? Well, as this chart from Statista shows, the market is huge. According to recent data from the World Bank and the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union, only 47% of the world’s population has internet access.
That means nearly four billion people, the vast majority of which are in developing or less-developed countries, are currently in the dark. And after a big boom in the late 90s, yearly growth of internet access has largely stalled — as it stands now, we’re unlikely to hit the UN’s stated goal of getting 60% of the world online by 2020.
But the opening remains, and if you’re a mega-company trying to expand your online empire, or set up the colonization of Mars, it’s the kind of step you might have to take.
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