Top firms like Google and Facebook are using high-flying tech - from satellites to drones - to bring Internet access to all corners of the globe.
Though the modern Internet has only been available to the average home for about 20 years, it has made enough of an impact for the United Nations in 2012 to suggest that access should be considered a human right. Whether or not you agree with that (Google's Vint Cerf is skeptical), Internet access is a hot-button issue, as evidenced by the ongoing net neutrality debate at the FCC.
But while the commission figures out how best to regulate the Internet in areas that already have broadband service, a number of tech giants are working to bring Web access to the corners of the globe that have not yet been touched by social networking, memes, online shopping, and all the other bounties a connected life provides.
According to recent stats, just over 40 percent of those in the Middle East, 15.6 percent of those in Africa, and 27.5 percent of those in Asia use the Internet (compared to 78.6 percent in North America and 63.2 percent in Europe). Though adoption of low-cost smartphones has helped boost Internet usage in certain under-served areas, companies like Facebook and Google are now taking more drastic measures to make sure all corners of the world have access to the Web (and their services, of course).
What type of projects are we talking about? Check out the slideshow for a rundown of some innovative ways that well-known tech giants are trying to expand the reach of the Interwebs.