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Microsoft awards grants to bring affordable Internet access to the masses

The software giant follows in the steps of Facebook and Google in the hopes of providing Internet access to developing countries.

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Microsoft said Tuesday it had awarded grants to 12 businesses as part of the company's Affordable Access Initiative, part of the software giant's effort to encourage low-cost Internet around the world.

Grant recipients include businesses from Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the UK and the US. In addition to financial support, each company will have access to Microsoft resources, software and services to help them develop their technology.

"With more than half of the world's population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving," Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, said in a press release. "By using technology that's available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come."

Microsoft isn't the first tech giant hoping to bring the entire population online. Facebook and Google have explored a variety of programs, such as using drones and balloon, to help connect the developing world.

This article also appears in Spanish. Read: Microsoft también quiere llevar Internet a todo el planeta