Cloudflare announced Project Pangea, a new initiative to improve internet access for underserved communities around the world. Through Project Pangea, eligible local communities can use Cloudflare’s performance and security services–for free–to more reliably and securely connect to the global internet without paying the high costs of bandwidth.
By providing its security and network services, Cloudflare is helping local groups or nonprofits that build their own telecom infrastructure find a free and sustainable way to connect people who rely on the internet for everything from communication to education and economic development.
Nearly half of the world’s population has no access to the internet, with many more limited to poor, expensive, and unreliable connectivity. Many communities rely on non-profits or form local groups to build their own networks by erecting Wi-Fi antennas or laying fiber optic cables. This allows them to build a network in a town that connects homes and businesses together, but it remains very expensive to connect that network to the internet.
Bandwidth is either unavailable or unaffordable because existing providers don’t have the economies of scale to provide it, or because regional policies and regulations favor urban markets. The problem is not limited to developing nations and exists across the globe. In the United States for example, 21 million people have no high-speed connection despite large levels of public investment and private infrastructure. Now, Cloudflare is offering a chance for communities to get the internet experience they deserve–performant, reliable, and secure.
“Safe, reliable, and sustainable internet access is a basic human right,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder & CEO of Cloudflare. “Unfortunately many communities are building their own infrastructure only to be blocked by high bandwidth costs. We want to help where we can–if they’ve already built the connecting roads, we want to offer our network as the safe, accessible highway to the global internet.”
Cloudflare’s global network spans more than 200 cities in over 100 countries, and interconnects with over 9,500 networks globally, including major ISPs, cloud services, and enterprises. This allows Cloudflare to offer a secure, affordable way to expand access to the internet that can grow with, and contribute to, the sustainability of these networks, as well as be ready for any new networks that launch.
With Project Pangea, community network organizers will be able to:
- Find a free on-ramp to the internet: Eligible communities can sign up for Project Pangea to get free, reliable, and high-quality connectivity without being left behind or overcharged by traditional ISPs.
- Operate secure and performant networks for everyone: Not only does Project Pangea provide connectivity to communities, but also Cloudflare’s security tools to make networks resilient in the face of cyberattacks. With access to Cloudflare Network Interconnect, Magic Transit, and Magic Firewall, networks will be able to stay online and protect users while giving them a fast internet experience.
- Take advantage of Cloudflare’s global infrastructure footprint: Cloudflare’s global network spans more than 200 cities in over 100 countries, and interconnects with over 9,500 networks globally. This makes it one of the most reachable networks in the world, with communities able to connect to the data center that is closest to them, resulting in a faster and more stable connection.
Project Pangea participants
“As a community-owned wireless ISP based in rural South Africa, we advocate for digital equity and for Internet that is truly affordable,” said Sol Luca de Tena, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Zenzeleni Networks NPC. “To do this, we work with a range of partners to help make Community Networks become mechanisms for positive change. With Cloudflare’s Project Pangea, we see an opportunity to further improve how communities can gain affordable and secure connectivity to the internet.”
“HUBS is a cooperative of community networks in Scotland with a goal of enabling reliable, fast internet through affordable technical solutions. By connecting rural areas with internet infrastructure and services, we can give people in those communities access to and representation on the internet,” said Gordon Hughes, Executive Director of HUBS CIC. “Cloudflare’s Project Pangea will help make it easy for networks to ensure affordability and reliability for the community while also feeling at ease that they’re secure and protected.”
“As a group of activists for free community networks in Argentina, AlterMundi strives to help solve connectivity problems in populations neglected by the market,” said Nicolás Echániz, founder of AlterMundi. “Low costs and high performance are necessary for networks to help their communities thrive– which is one of the reasons we’re intrigued by the potential of Project Pangea could bring to bridging the connectivity divide that many areas face.”
“As the largest community network in the US, working with New Yorkers to close the digital divide, NYC Mesh is looking forward to collaborating with Cloudflare to better serve the communities we connect,” said Zachary Giles, Volunteer Network Admin at NYC Mesh.
“At guifi.net, we welcome the contribution of a leading company such as Cloudflare to the community networks ecosystem. Project Pangea addresses the recurrent blocking factor of internet access in a meaningful manner (free for the small, at cost for the larger) from a privileged position,” said Ramon Roca, President of the Guifi.net Foundation. “Thus, we are convinced that this project can become a milestone in the history of community networks.”
“Communities need connectivity to thrive and to connect to schools, to jobs, to opportunity, and to each other,” said Jane R. Coffin, Senior Vice President of Internet Growth at Internet Society, a global nonprofit organization that promotes the development and use of the internet. “Since 2010, we’ve been working with partners around the world to scale community networks and to empower the people who need the internet to also build it. This is why we’re excited to see how Cloudflare’s Project Pangea can help make these networks more secure and efficient–and ultimately contribute to a more open, globally connected, and secure internet.”
“Access to the internet is a fundamental requirement of life, and trustworthy and secure internet services are a vital pillar of Digital Trust,” said Daniel Dobrygowski, Head of Governance and Trust at the World Economic Forum. “From our work on the Internet for All initiative all the way through the new Edison Alliance, the World Economic Forum has expanded access to the internet and spurred global cooperation on the public goods of cybersecurity, digital trust, and good governance of technology. We welcome Cloudflare’s Project Pangea as a valued contributor to a more equal, accessible, and trustworthy global internet.”
“Access to the internet should be open, accessible and affordable to all. Mozilla has long been committed to supporting communities across the world, particularly in rural areas, to bring people online,” said Alice Munyua, Director Africa Mradi at Mozilla. “Today, we are excited to see the launch of Cloudflare’s Project Pangea for the approach it is taking to help communities benefit from more affordable access to the global internet backbone.”
“At the Association for Progressive Communications, we focus on creating an enabling environment for community networks, supporting those unconnected who want to connect themselves,” said Carlos Rey-Moreno, Co-Lead of the Local Networks initiative at APC. “One of the challenges the community network movement faces is the high costs for secure and reliable internet–a roadblock that we believe Cloudflare is well positioned to help overcome.”