Internet.org seems to be on news today everywhere. Facebook Leads an Effort to Lower Barriers to Internet Access article tells that half a dozen of the world’s tech giants, including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson, have agreed to work with the company as partners on the initiative, which they call Internet.org. The plan is to cut cost of delivering basic Internet services on mobile phones, particularly in developing countries, where Facebook and other tech companies need to find new users.
Internet.org is a global partnership between technology leaders, nonprofits, local communities and experts who are working together to bring the internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have it. Internet.org partners will explore solutions in three major opportunity areas: affordability, efficiency, and business models. The plans is to share tools, resources and best practices. The founding members of internet.org — Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung — will develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online. Internet.org is influenced by the successful Open Compute Project.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, today announced the launch of internet.org, a global partnership with the goal of making internet access available to the next 5 billion people. Today, only 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world’s population — have access to the internet (and from them 1.15 billion billion people use Facebook each month). Internet adoption is growing by less than 9% each year. According to those numbers the internet isn’t accessible for two thirds of the world and at current grow rate that does not change soon.
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.
“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.”
At the moment there are more than 5 billion mobile phones in the world, with almost 4 billion feature phones and more than 1 billion smartphones. In many countries, the cost of a data plan is vastly more expensive than the price of a smartphone. Most people in the world don’t have much disposable income to spend on data access. A lot of people don’t have phones and many just cannot afford one. The companies intend to accomplish their goal in part by simplifying phone applications (so they run more efficiently) and by improving the communications infrastructure (improve phones and networks so that they transmit more data while using less power).
The Internet.org website was launched today. Now it provides an overview of the mission and goals, as well as a full list of the partners. The plan is that in the coming weeks, it will feature interviews with technology leaders and experts, along with the latest news.
Let’s see what comes out of this. It is at the point hard to say what this kind of project will lead, or will it lead to anything new. There is no guarantee that most people will ever have access to the internet. It isn’t going to happen by itself. Facebook paper Is Connectivity A Human Right ? claims that it’s possible to sustainably provide free access to basic internet services in a way that enables everyone with a phone to get on the internet and join the knowledge economy while also enabling the industry to continue growing profits and building out this infrastructure. I quess that sooner or later there will be some conflict of interests between different companies on this area. The founding members seem to be the ones that at the moment would benefit of this kind of developments. Remember that Facebook and other tech companies need to find new users.