Facebook has joined hands with six tech giants — including Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung — for the launch of Internet.org, an initiative aimed at making Internet accessible to everyone.
With an objective to provide Internet access to two-third population of the world who are not online yet, the global partnership will focus on three key challenges in developing countries – making access affordable, data more efficient and helping business drive Internet access.
Facebook notes that about 2.7 billion people, over one-third of the global population, are online while the Internet adoption is growing at just 9% each year. Facebook hopes the new initiative will help more people get access to the Internet.
"Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect," says Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. "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."
"For more than 100 years, Ericsson has been enabling communications for all and today more than 6 billion people in the world have access to mobile communications,” says Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson.
"We are committed to shaping the Networked Society – where everyone and everything will be connected in real time; creating the freedom, empowerment and opportunity to transform society. We believe affordable connectivity and internet access improves people's lives and helps build a more sustainable planet and therefore we are excited to participate in the internet.org initiative.”
“Nokia is deeply passionate about connecting people – to one another and the world around them,” said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop. “Over the years, Nokia has connected well over a billion people. Our industry is now at an exciting inflection point where Internet connectivity is becoming more affordable and efficient for consumers while still offering them great experiences. Universal internet access will be the next great industrial revolution.”
Facebook's new initiative comes shortly after Google launched Project Loon with a similar concept of providing Internet access to users in rural and remote areas through high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere.
Facebook, however, already works with mobile operators to provide free access to its services. It also provides Facebook access to non-smartphone users through its Facebook for Every Phone app, which recently surpassed 100 million monthly active users.