Microsoft has a new plan that rivals Google's balloon-based internet service

Microsoft is creating a series of partnerships to complement — or even compete with — Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s initiative, according to ZDNet.

As part of Microsoft Philanthropy, a newly launched initiative for the company’s good deeds, Microsoft is giving $75,000 (£50,000) to non-profit organisations that aim to increase internet access around the world.

In a blog post, Paul Garnett, who runs the Affordable Access Initiative at Microsoft, said that the company is partnering with Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities in the U.S. to expand its fibre optic networks. Microsoft is also looking at “TV white space” which uses TV broadcasting to transmit WiFi signals over a long distance.

Microsoft is also working in with a mobile operator in Kenya to expand coverage to rural communities, according to the post.

Getting the next one or two billion internet users online is the goal behind Microsoft, Facebook, and Google’s efforts. Facebook’s plan involves beaming the internet from solar powered planes that stay aloft for months at a time. Google’s Project Loon does something similar, but with high-altitude balloons. Their efforts are complementary, but it will be interesting to see which one is more successful.

The internet is still only used by 46% of the world’s population — around 3 billion people — but the majority of those are in Europe and North America. In places such as Africa, only 28% of the population has internet access.

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