Facebook has announced the launch of Internet.org, a group of technology leaders partnering in order to make the Internet available to the entire world. Along with the social networking giant, companies like Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Opera and Samsung will be coming together to spearhead initiatives that bring the Internet to countries who do not have easy access to it.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has been actively pushing to make his own social network accessible to everyone in the world, is taking keen interest in the activities of Internet.org. "Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect," he said in a blog post. "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."
The companies will partner with mobile operators initially, followed by NGOs, academicians and experts to help bring the two-thirds of the world – which does not have access to the Internet – online. The project is said to be influenced by the success of Open Compute Project, an initiative across the industry that has been striving to make cloud computing cheaper by making hardware designs more efficient and innovative.
The Internet.org initiative will be having a three-pronged approach towards bringing the world online. The main agenda of the group is to make access affordable to those who wish to be online. The group will help develop and adopt technologies that make access cheaper and data more accessible. Developing new phones that are low on cost and high on quality is on the agenda too. The group expects mobile operators to lend a hand here.
Internet.org will invest in tools that will aim to reduce the amount of data required to access apps. The group will be collaborating on data compression tools, enenhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data, building systems to cache data efficiently and creating frameworks for apps to reduce data usage.Lastly, the group will support development of sustainable new business models that make accessing the Internet easier for people.
Facebook is already working with mobile operators around the world – and in India, especially – in order to make accessing Facebook cheaper. The initiative called Facebook for Every Phone aims to make the service accessible even on feature phones. Recently, the company announced that the service has hit 100 million monthly active users the world over. This will serve as an excellent stepping stone for Internet.org to take off from. Harnessed correctly, Facebook’s potential to reach the masses and their rapport with mobile operators might just be the push Internet.org needs.
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