Facebook, major retailers team up to widen Internet access globally
By Jay Keller
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that the social network is teaming up with six other companies with the goal of making internet access available to the next five billion people through efforts organized at the website Internet.org.
Zuckerberg outlined three challenges that will be the focus of effort including making access affordable, using data more efficiently and helping businesses drive access.
Through the website Internet.org, Facebook and founding members Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung plan to collaborate on projects, knowledge-sharing initiatives and sit-downs with industry and government leaders to “bring the world online.”
“Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect,” Zuckerberg said in Wednesday’s statement. “There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy.”
Zuckerberg continued to highlight the role of the global partnership, saying that the combined efforts at Internet.org will work to clear the barriers “including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”
“The founding members of internet.org … have a long history of working closely with mobile operators and expect them to play leading roles within the initiative, which over time will also include NGOs, academics and experts as well,” added Zuckerberg.
The challenge of making internet access aﬀordable through data-delivery efficiency, Zuckerberg says, could include projects like lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones or forming partnerships to deploy Internet access in underserved communities.
Simply put, according to Facebook, the challenge of using less data with better apps includes more techie things like data compression tools, better caching and other ways app frameworks can reduce data usage.
The third challenge, helping businesses drive internet access by developing a new model to get people online, requires collaboration from the six founding members to work locally to help businesses create affordable service and access.
In addition to Wednesday’s announcement, Zuckerberg also published on Facebook a missive asking whether or not connectivity is a human right.
Zuckerberg introduces what he calls a 10-page “rough plan” that digs deeper and goes beyond the brief overview offered by the announcement of the global partnership by further defining the who, what, why and how. ( PDF: Is Connectivity a Human Right? )