Technology companies partnering to bring internet access to 5 billion people

Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung are partnering to bring internet access to the remaining 5 billion people.

Today, only 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world’s population — have access to the internet. Internet adoption is growing by less than 9% each year, which is slow considering how early we are in its development.

The goal of Internet.org is to make internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected, and to bring the same opportunities to everyone that the connected third of the world has today.

internet.org will focus on three key challenges in developing countries:

Making access affordable: Partners will collaborate to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. Potential projects include collaborations to develop lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in underserved communities. Mobile operators will play a central role in this effort by driving initiatives that benefit the entire ecosystem.

Using data more efficiently: Partners will invest in tools that dramatically reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and internet experiences. Potential projects include developing data compression tools, enhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data, building systems to cache data efficiently and creating frameworks for apps to reduce data usage.

Helping businesses drive access: Partners will support development of sustainable new business models and services that make it easier for people to access the internet. This includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable access than has previously been possible. Other efforts will focus on localizing services – working with operating system providers and other partners to enable more languages on mobile devices.

The first billion have more money than the rest combined

The companies will work together to develop low-cost smartphones and tools that reduce the amount of data that apps consume.

Google has its own project called “Loon” to provide Internet access in remote and rural areas using high-altitude balloons.

Connecting more people to the Internet can mean more revenue for Web companies like Facebook and Google. But Zuckerberg insisted that the project isn’t about money.

“If we really just wanted to focus on making money, the first billion people who are already on Facebook have way more money than the next five or six billion people combined,” he said. “It’s not fair, but it’s the way that it is. And we just believe that everyone deserves to be connected, and on the Internet, so we’re putting a lot of energy towards this.”

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