Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring Internet access to everyone. Late Tuesday he announced the launch of Internet.org, an initiative to bring Internet access to the two-thirds of the world’s population that can’t get online.
Only 2.7 billion people have Internet access, with Internet adoption growing by less than 9% annually.
The founding members of Internet.org are Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung. Their goals? Efficient use of data, making Internet access affordable, and helping businesses create new business models and services that will drive Internet access.
Some potential projects of Internet.org include development of lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones that could help deploy Internet access in underserved areas, data compression tools and data caching systems as well as localization of mobile devices.
“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,” said Zuckerberg in an official statement.
Zuckerberg also published a mission statement accompanying this launch, addressing some of the issues that Internet.org will have to face. Perhaps the most important of them is profitability — or lack thereof.
“The unfair economic reality is that those already on Facebook have way more money than the rest of the world combined, so it may not actually be proﬁtable for us to serve the next few billion people for a very long time, if ever. But we believe everyone deserves to be connected,” he writes.
The actual website — Internet.org — currently provides an overview of the project and its goals as well as a full list of partners. In the coming weeks, it should also provide news on Internet.org’s activities as well as interviews with technology leaders and experts.
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