Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Zuckerberg Announces Plan to Increase Internet Connectivity

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Zuckerberg Announces Plan to Increase Internet Connectivity

Article excerpt

More than two-thirds of the world's population - some 5 billion people - do not have Internet access, but Mark Zuckerberg's coalition of Internet companies has a plan to connect the unconnected.

The Facebook founder and chief executive announced a plan to make Internet more affordable by lowering the cost of data per megabyte. The measures were part of a ten-page plan entitled "Is Connectivity a Human Right?" that was laid out by Internet.org, a coalition of telecommunication companies that includes Ericsson, Mediatek, Opera software, Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Mr. Zuckerberg's own Facebook.

One of the main problems with current Internet connections is that people simply use too much data, Zuckerberg explains in the report. In developed countries, consumers pay for unlimited data plans, and as a result many frequently use apps that have little or no data usage optimization. Making apps more efficient not only makes them more marketable in developing countries, where users typically pay per download, it also incentivizes those offline to get online - the cost of social connectivity is no longer prohibitive.

Facebook has already addressed this issue to a certain extent with its Facebook for Everyphone app, which targets users in emerging markets. However, Zuckerberg writes there is a great deal of potential for both cellphones and Internet companies. The majority of Internet users in developing countries use mobile devices to connect to the Internet.

Therein lies the carrot of Internet.org's plan: it would also provide a major boost to Internet companies that need to expand outside of already connected developed economies.

Most of the countries that have widespread Internet access are also home to individuals that are already connected to social networking sites such as Facebook. The United States is Facebook's largest market with more than 160 million users, but the next largest markets are Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Mexico with more than 58 million, 56 million, 43 million, and 38 million users, respectively, according to a recent study by Jana, a technology research group based in Boston. …

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