https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jim-cashel/the-great-connecting-the-emergence-of-global-broad/

A researcher assesses both the challenges and the potentially transformative power of global internet access. As ubiquitous as the internet may seem, debut author Cashel observes, a considerable swath of the world—its poorest parts—remains without access to it, “locked out” of one of the most significant technological inventions of this era. But there are good reasons to believe that will change soon, in particular the plummeting costs associated with satellite technology, which effectively delivers faster and higher quality broadband service. In addition, major companies like Google and Facebook, with commercial interests in reaching more customers, are experimenting with new ways to supply the developing world with internet access. Facebook has been using drones as instruments of delivery, and Google has been harnessing balloons. Moreover, governmental institutions are making a contribution as well; in 2010, the United Nations established the Broadband Commission for Digital Development and considers the general adoption of broadband access central to the achievement of its other developmental goals for poorer nations. The author astutely raises an important question: How will the widespread promulgation of broadband—what Cashel calls the “Great Connecting”—affect otherwise disadvantaged populations? He provides a searching discussion of the many ways—financial, medical, political, and communicative, just to name a few—in which broadband will positively alter the socio-economic landscapes of the beneficiaries. In addition, the author assesses the challenges, particularly the use of the internet as a tool of extremist hate and political oppression. Finally, he presents a series of thoughtful solutions to these impediments and a kind of road map for governments and investors alike to accelerate the process and clear inevitable hurdles. Cashel is a researcher and visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and so it is unsurprising his study is impressively exacting. At the same time, it’s an exceedingly practical work and draws heavily not only on theory and data, but also on the author’s travels to the developing world. Unfortunately, his optimism can be excessive; for example, especially after the last year of revelations about Facebook’s business, it is remarkable he can write: “The good news is that Facebook does have in its mission statement—and undoubtedly in its corporate DNA—the idea of making the world a better place.” Still, this remains an incisive tour of a complex set of issues. A thorough and concise look into the technologically saturated future.