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powered by IEEE Future Networks Initiative
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powered by IEEE Future Networks Initiative
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powered by IEEE Future Networks Initiative
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For more information about the challenge or to submit an application, click this link

Important dates

PHASE 1

The system is open to receive submissions since: June 18, 2021

Application deadline: July 16, 2021

Phase 1 Notifications: August 7, 2021

PHASE 2

Phase 2 deadline: August 28, 2021   

Phase 2 notifications: Sept 25, 2021    

Phase 2 notifications: Sept 25, 2021    

no-service

Imagine your life without the internet

Internet access is critical to education, industry, and healthy living. Unconnected populations lack access to sell goods and services online, and students lack access to schooling. Working or studying from home is unrealistic for those lacking internet access, forcing a decision between learning or earning a living—with offline students often receiving no education at all. Unconnected global economies leave such workers and students with few options, while governments and nonprofits are more challenged 9to support them than ever before.

Semifinalist judging event (reserve date): Thursday, Sept 30th and Friday 1st October, 2021

The winners will be announced at our Summit in November

Award numbers and amounts are subject to the discretion of the selection committee and available funding. Additional information can be found in the Request for Participation and Contest Rules documents

no-service

Imagine your life without the internet

Internet access is critical to education, industry, and healthy living. Unconnected populations lack access to sell goods and services online, and students lack access to schooling. Working or studying from home is unrealistic for those lacking internet access, forcing a decision between learning or earning a living—with offline students often receiving no education at all. Unconnected global economies leave such workers and students with few options, while governments and nonprofits are more challenged 9to support them than ever before.
no-service

Imagine your life without the internet

Internet access is critical to education, industry, and healthy living. Unconnected populations lack access to sell goods and services online, and students lack access to schooling. Working or studying from home is unrealistic for those lacking internet access, forcing a decision between learning or earning a living—with offline students often receiving no education at all. Unconnected global economies leave such workers and students with few options, while governments and nonprofits are more challenged to support them than ever before.

This digital divide is particularly impactful on women. According to UNESCO, across 10 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, women are 30-50% less likely than men to make use of the internet, and at a global level, women are 23% less likely than men to use mobile internet. Connecting those without access is often both an issue of cost as well as culture. In sub-Saharan Africa, one gigabit of data costs nearly 40% of the average monthly wage. But also, there are other barriers to use such as lack of literacy or acceptance of the change. All of these factors critically impair adoption and usage. Lack of use means that one cannot access telemedicine, take an online class, digitally transform a farm, or research a school project, ultimately hindering the development and social and economic well-being of both families and communities.

We are seeking innovative solutions to connect the unconnected

In light of this dire and increased need, IEEE’s Future Networks Initiative (FNI) has received funding to support research and competition to enable one or more innovative providers to enhance access and connectivity in less developed countries or in rural areas of developed nations along with services and applications that can better meet social needs such as agriculture or livelihoods as well as health and education.
FNI believes that there are local providers which may have identified mechanisms to lower costs and enhance service provision, allowing for more sustainable, commercially viable outcomes that also address cultural and technological impediments. By helping such organizations to build and expand their offering, IEEE can work to increase access, reduce the digital divide, and further its humanitarian and social mission for those most impacted.

We are seeking innovative solutions to connect the unconnected

In light of this dire and increased need, IEEE’s Future Networks Initiative (FNI) has received funding to support research and competition to enable one or more innovative providers to enhance access and connectivity in less developed countries or in rural areas of developed nations along with services and applications that can better meet social needs such as agriculture or livelihoods as well as health and education.
FNI believes that there are local providers which may have identified mechanisms to lower costs and enhance service provision, allowing for more sustainable, commercially viable outcomes that also address cultural and technological impediments. By helping such organizations to build and expand their offering, IEEE can work to increase access, reduce the digital divide, and further its humanitarian and social mission for those most impacted.

The Challenge

The IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Challenge has two tracks, and within each track, competitors may submit their solution within one of three categories: innovative Technology Applications (TA) to increase broadband access or otherwise enable connectivity; innovative Business Models (BM) that result in increased affordability; or innovations that address Community Enablement (CE), or the likelihood that populations choose to adopt available broadband access when previously they did not. (In these cases supply and affordability are not problems, but people still don’t use the internet.)

Proof-of-Concept Track

This challenge invites submissions from individuals or groups who have already demonstrated their innovation with a basic proof-of-concept implementation or a pilot program and can show preliminary results, or successful field deployment(s). The submission in this category should include a description of the general design and proposed functionality including implementation of specific features. In addition to implementation, it can include a (small-scale) deployment/exercise to verify the idea’s potential and/or to illustrate its feasibility. It should be noted that the competition is looking for early-stage projects/programs, not well-established programs with a multi-year history.

Concept-Only Track

This challenge invites submissions from individuals or groups who are proposing novel ideas for Technology Applications, Business Models, or Community Enablement categories that have not yet been tested or demonstrated, but could result in significant innovative advances. Prizes in this track will be lower than the Proof-of-Concept  track.

Proof-of-Concept Track

This challenge invites submissions from individuals or groups who have already demonstrated their innovation with a basic proof-of-concept implementation or a pilot program and can show preliminary results, or successful field deployment(s). The submission in this category should include a description of the general design and proposed functionality including implementation of specific features. In addition to implementation, it can include a (small-scale) deployment/exercise to verify the idea’s potential and/or to illustrate its feasibility. It should be noted that the competition is looking for early-stage projects/programs, not well-established programs with a multi-year history.

Concept-Only Track

This challenge invites submissions from individuals or groups who are proposing novel ideas for Technology Applications, Business Models, or Community Enablement categories that have not yet been tested or demonstrated, but could result in significant innovative advances. Prizes in this track will be lower than the Proof-of-Concept  track.

Proof-of-Concept Track

This challenge invites submissions from individuals or groups who have already demonstrated their innovation with a basic proof-of-concept implementation or a pilot program and can show preliminary results, or successful field deployment(s). The submission in this category should include a description of the general design and proposed functionality including implementation of specific features. In addition to implementation, it can include a (small-scale) deployment/exercise to verify the idea’s potential and/or to illustrate its feasibility. It should be noted that the competition is looking for early-stage projects/programs, not well-established programs with a multi-year history.
 

Concept-Only Track

This challenge invites submissions from individuals or groups who are proposing novel ideas for TA, BM, or UD categories that have not yet been tested or demonstrated, but could result in significant innovative advances. Prizes in this track will be lower than the POC track.

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Contact us

Do you have questions, or suggestions? You can reach us by mail at: ieee-ctu@ieee.org