Internet for all
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced the launch of a new project called Internet.org, which aims to bring internet connectivity to the entire world.
With only 2.7 billion people (one third of the world population) currently able to access the internet, the project promises to connect the remaining 5 billion people.
In a press release yesterday, it was revealed that Facebook is joining forces with global telecoms partners including Ericsson, Mediatek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to make the project possible. The seven companies have vowed to work together in three key areas;
- Collaborating on lower cost smartphones and decreasing the cost of delivering data to communities - making internet access affordable.
- Investing in tools to improve data handling efficiency, ensuring networks run smoothly.
- Developing and testing sustainable new business models for mobile operators and manufacturers to drive access.
"Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect. There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it."
Of the world's 2.7bn connected people, over a billion are Facebook members, with recent Facebook usage stats revealing huge growth in mobile access, so connecting another 5 billion could see benefits for Facebook - although that's not Zuckerberg's primary concern.
The announcement of Internet.org was accompanied by a white paper by the 29 year old billionaire, entitled 'Is Connectivity a Human Right?'. The document outlines the benefits the internet has brought to the developed world, from the new 'knowledge economy' and job creation, to demonstrable growth in GDP. Bringing the same opportunities to the rest of the world via global connectivity could be, according to Zuckerberg, "one of the most important things we all do in our lifetimes".
The Internet.org project bears similarities to the recently announced Project Loon from Google. The search giant is hoping to launch balloons into the stratosphere which will provide internet coverage in rural and remote areas. The balloons are currently being tested in California.
Kleon West, business development director at theEword, commented: "The fact that so many giant technology companies are committed to increasing internet access in the developing world is really positive. There may be some minor business benefits long-term, and it's good PR of course, but the real winners here are the countries and communities that could be transformed by internet access."