Think global, and acting is always local

Fri, 09/04/2009 - 10:08am
Brian Santo

You’ve contributed to rebuilding projects in New Orleans. You’ve helped bring broadband to schools. You’ve extended broadband to rural areas desperate for a means to grow. It’s about education, about opportunity. There you go – you already get the concept behind Connect the World.

Broadband is a key element in building thriving, functioning community. Meanwhile, a tiny percentage of people in the developing world have access to broadband. Connect the World is a new organization founded by a group of people from the cable industry who figured that there’s CONNECT THE WORLDnobody more qualified to bring broadband connectivity to developing areas than people in the broadband industry.

When it formulated its mission, Connect the World started right at the ground floor – metaphorically and literally. Two absolute requisites for broadband are suitable shelter and power, explained Connect the World executive director Jim Anderson. You might know Anderson from his recent stint at The Cable Center, or from Mentis Broadband.

Connect the World is already beginning to get some support of various kinds, but it needs more.

Connect the World and Habitat for Humanity have begun, or are setting up, projects in: 

  • Macedonia
  • Chile
  • Tajikistan
  • Malawi
  • Pascagoula, Miss.
  • The Ukraine

The local situations are all different, but one of the aims of the organization is to help support areas hit by natural disasters; northern Chile, for example, was rocked by earthquakes, and Pascagoula was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, which also inundated New Orleans.

And once homes are built, a power source is secured and broadband is made available, Connect the World plans to stick around. In true teach-a-man-to-fish fashion, the organization expects to help the local populace to operate and maintain their infrastructure, and to demonstrate how to use their new connectivity for education, health and improving commercial prospects, Anderson explained.

Connect the World is already beginning to get some support of various kinds from companies like Chile’s dominant cable company VTR (owned by Liberty Global), Alpha Technologies and Aurora Networks. But it needs more.

It needs money.

It needs equipment.

It needs expertise.

“If someone can lend us an employee, part time or for a couple of months, that’s as valuable as any donation,” Anderson said.

Like many other non-profits, Connect the World understands that giving away everything for free doesn’t always work, for a variety of reasons. Though it is a 501(c)3 non-profit, it also has an associated L3C (low-profit limited liability company) that supporting companies can work through. An LC3 is a relatively new type of legal entity, basically a form of non-profit that allows for modest profits.

Anyone thinking about contributing can contact Anderson at Or check out the organization’s booth near the Green Pavilion at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2009 in Denver.

The results for Connect the World’s approach are already coming in. Anderson related the story of a girl the organization’s representatives met in Tajikistan who, when she finally got onto the Internet, learned that you can actually make a living finding out how things work. Now she wants to be a scientist.

“Information lets people dream a little more,” Anderson said.


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