Imagine your life
without the internet

Internet access is critical to education, industry, and healthy living. Unconnected populations lack access to buy and sell goods and services online. Students lack access to the abundance of remote learning opportunities. During the pandemic, working or studying from home was impossible for unconnected populations. For many, the lack of internet access forced them to make a choice between their well being or earning a living, and many offline students received no education at all. An increasingly connected global economy leaves such workers and students with few options.

Connecting the globe

IEEE Connecting
the Unconnected

An annual, global competition to bridge the digital divide. Submissions due in July.

There are 2.9 billion unconnected people across the globe, an issue that was significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to UNESCO, in 10 countries across Africa, Asia, and South America, women are 30-50% less likely than men to make use of the internet. Globally, women are 23% less likely than men to use mobile internet.

Connecting people

IEEE Connecting
the Unconnected

Coming in November 2022.

Help us find innovative solutions to connect the unconnected.

The IEEE Future Networks Initiative provides the primary funding for the CTU Challenge and Summit, but support from industry is critical to making the competition a sustainable annual event. Contact us to add your company’s name to those already committed to helping us increase access and raise awareness of this humanitarian social issue.



Be a part of the conversation with like-minded companies supporting the competition and paving the way for increased broadband access!

Award Sponsors

Facebook Connectivity
Connecting the Unconnected - Challenge

The IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Challenge is an annual, global competition that solicits solutions from start-ups, grassroots organizations, universities, or individuals with projects or ideas to bridge the digital divide in innovative ways. Organized by the IEEE Future Networks Initiative and other partners, the competition seeks applications from early-stage projects that offer unique ways to increase Internet access and usage for unconnected populations/geographies.

The IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Summit (November 2022) will convene experts and thought leaders on the issue of Internet connectivity and the digital divide. This multi-day virtual event will feature keynote talks, panels, and more with regulators, multinational companies, standards-setting bodies, non-profits and others. The Summit will also serve as an Awards Ceremony for the IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Challenge, with winners presenting their solutions and interacting with attendees.

Stay Informed

Would you like to receive email updates about the IEEE Connecting the Unconnected program? Sign up for email alerts such as deadline reminders, announcements, and news about the CTU Challenge and Summit.

Get Involved

The IEEE Connecting the Unconnected program runs largely on the time and talent of volunteers who are passionate about this urgent humanitarian issue. Volunteers contribute to planning and managing the Competition and Summit, serve as mentors to competition winners, as judges for the Challenge, help with publicity and outreach, and more.

If you would like to join our growing team, we can find a way to put your unique skills and expertise to good use toward the CTU mission and vision.