"The way the sector approached corporate social responsibility has changed over the last decade," he says. "Go back ten years and CSR often involved engaging in a small pilot to bring Wi-Fi to a village in
"But if you look at some of the economic growth that's taken place in
This means long-term investment in developing countries has begun to attract the interest of the private sector. Like
Though the Mawingu plans involve erecting solar-powered transmitter masts rather than launching balloons like
But Bell adds that, for such projects to be at their best, they need input from public bodies too. For example, nations themselves must regulate white space frequencies.
Bell emphasises, though, that projects like these are not about charity. "I'm uncomfortable with the word 'philanthropy'," he says. "If you think about what a company is - essentially shareholders wanting a return on investment - then it's clear that's not really something we're set up to do."
It's Bell's job to think through how his company can act responsibly while still making a return on its investment.
"We think in ten years' time, once
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