About Digital Communities

The reach and benefits of the internet remain limited in many developing countries and underserved populations due to remote locations, limited infrastructure, high up-front costs, power outages, and educational and geographic barriers.

American Tower is helping to overcome these hurdles and provide greater access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) through our Digital Communities program.

Located at or near the base of an American Tower site, Digital Communities are places where people of all ages gain access to the internet through digital devices, educator-led instruction and self-guided kiosks. Based on local needs, Digital Communities provide educational, healthcare, financial and career development services with an aim to improve quality of life through connectivity.

Members of the local community can use these Digital Communities to access the internet and complete ICT training. By supporting connectivity worldwide, focusing on economically disadvantaged or underserved communities, promoting digital literacy and increasing employability through education, Digital Communities contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

Mission

We are committed to improving the quality of life for communities that are economically disadvantaged or underserved by supporting connectivity worldwide, with a primary focus on education, including promoting digital literacy and increased employability. American Tower seeks to collaborate with partners to help with this effort, as well as other essential services, such as healthcare and financial inclusion.

A Digital Community is successful through strategic partnerships with corporations, nonprofits, NGOs and other trusted partners—we are actively seeking partners, see contact information below to learn more.

Each Digital Community focuses on one or more of the following areas:

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Community Education

Classrooms are equipped with electrical power, strong internet signal, digital equipment, classroom materials and educator-led instruction for youth of all ages.

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Healthcare Access

Clinics provide basic healthcare services and digital health solutions and are available to communities where access to healthcare is limited.

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Financial Inclusion

Kiosks and classroom education offer e-banking and financial literacy education for visitors with an aim to improve economic stability for community members.

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Career Development

Job skills training and certification courses are available to registered participants with an aim to support entrepreneurship and increase employability for unskilled and under-skilled adults, with job placement support offered to graduates.

Goal

American Tower seeks to build 2,000 Digital Communities across our global footprint over the next five years.

Current Status

American Tower and our partners have launched nearly 300 Digital Communities, serving approximately 129,000 people across six countries—India, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Mexico and Colombia.

MEXICO COLOMBIA NIGERIA GHANA UGANDA INDIA

History of the Program

In 2012, the American Tower team in India was seeking to harness the uninterrupted power and internet connectivity at tower sites to help surrounding communities. With this idea, Digital Communities was launched in India, and from there it has grown:

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2012

American Tower partnered with the Hole in the Wall (HiWEL) to fund self-learning kiosks at schools in underprivileged communities in India with a focus on language literacy and math.

2013

ATC Latin America launched Digital Communities located primarily at schools and youth centers.

2015

ATC India expanded the program to build classrooms at tower sites and engaged the NIIT Foundation to provide teacher-led training.

2017

ATC Africa began working with local organizations to build Digital Communities in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda.

ATC Africa

2018

American Tower’s then CEO Jim Taiclet presented the Digital Communities program to the Federal Communications Commission’s then Chairman Ajit Pai and India’s Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

2020

The Edison Alliance logo

American Tower joins the World Economic Forum’s EDISON Alliance to support their mission in prioritizing global digital inclusion as a foundation to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

2021

WSIS Prize Winner 2021

American Tower was awarded a 2021 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) prize in the “International and Regional Cooperation” category for the Digital Communities program. The contest identifies the year’s most innovative and high-impact ICT projects from around the world that are contributing to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

2021

American Tower’s CEO Tom Bartlett committed to expanding the Digital Communities program and launching 2,000 Digital Communities across our global footprint over the next five years. For more information, read the 2020 American Tower Sustainability Report.

Components of a Digital Community

Digital Communities are computer-equipped learning centers that use the uninterrupted power supply and broadband connection from our tower sites to enable internet access and provide local communities with classroom instruction, healthcare access and training in ICTs.

Components of a Digital Community

World Economic Forum and the EDISON Alliance

In January 2020, the World Economic Forum launched the EDISON Alliance to mobilize a global movement to prioritize digital inclusion as foundational to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and a cross-sector platform to accelerate collaborative action.

The Alliance aims to catalyze projects and partnerships around the world to provide connectivity and digital services to remote, rural and underprivileged populations. One of the fundamental needs to achieve the goals of the Alliance is to build the necessary connectivity infrastructure—cell towers, satellites, Wi-Fi or other technologies—and is in line with the Digital Communities program’s goals.

Future Plans for Digital Communities

American Tower has committed to support the EDISON Alliance through the Digital Communities program and is working with sponsors to pilot new models for providing essential infrastructure across our international markets and the United States.

We are currently seeking partners to meet our ambitious goals. We are looking for corporate and nonprofit partners to supply critical devices, equipment and content services to bring Digital Communities online. As a global provider of wireless communications infrastructure, we provide the infrastructure that supports connectivity. We need participant devices to access the internet, connectivity equipment to provide fronthaul and backhaul, alternative power and backup power, and content providers within the four focus areas.

For more information, contact us at digitalcommunities@americantower.com.

Wireless infrastructure to enable a connected world.

Founded in 1995, American Tower, one of the largest global Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), is a leading independent owner, operator and developer of multitenant communications real estate, with a portfolio of over 160,000 communications sites, including approximately 40,000 towers in the United States and more than 109,000 towers internationally.

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American Tower was named one of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2021 by FORTUNE magazine.