Mark Zuckerberg’s Planetary Internet Access initiative

There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy – Mark Zuckerberg

Have you heard? Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to make Internet access to  available to the next 5 billion people on the planet.  Last Week 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. Internet.org will focus on three key challenges:

  1. Making access affordable
  2. Using data more efficiently
  3. Helping businesses drive access

“Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect,” Zuckerberg said. “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.” 

Zuckerberg is not doing this solo though, The founding members of internet.org include Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung. Jointly they will develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online. These founding companies 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.

Internet.org is influenced by the successful Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative that has lowered the costs of cloud computing by making hardwaredesigns more efficient and innovative.

Stan Schhroeder covering the story in Mashable suggested “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”.

Responding to the Mashable article, Justin Maas, vice president of client relations at online marketing company fishbat, says the bold plan is a noble one. “Connectivity drives us,” he says. “People today are interacting like never before thanks to the Internet. By connecting the entire world through web access, connections will be made that would never have been possible before.”

The Internet.org team is comprised of big name brands like “Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, ect” the article says. These companies are looking to use data efficiently while making Internet access affordable. However, Internet.org has to combat the problem of profitability. “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,” Zuckerberg says in the article.

“Connecting the entire world is a fantastic goal and can bring digital marketing to the world,” Maas says. “Online marketing companies could make use of the new customer base opening up, and globalization, especially in advertising, could really take off. It’s just a matter of time until the entire project gets underway and we see where it goes.”

Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson commented “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.”

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