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 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. 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. 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 — Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung — will develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online. is influenced by the successful Open Compute Project.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, today announced the launch of, 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 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. 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 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.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pew: 30% Of U.S. Adults Don’t Have Broadband; 10% Use Smartphones As Sole Internet Access; 20% Have Zilch

    As Facebook teams up with other tech titans to put more effort into ubiquitous internet access worldwide, Pew Research is today is releasing the results of a survey that shows how one of the more advanced countries in the world, the U.S., is still not quite there in leading by example: 20% of U.S. adults are still without broadband or smartphones for internet access. And 3% of people in the country still using dial-up connections.

    The think tank’s most recent survey notes that today 70% of adults in the country reported having broadband access at home as of May 2013, with the proportions of connected individuals increasing in wealthier households, by age and other factors like race.

    “Broadband users can consume and create many types of content in ways that dial-up users cannot, and our research has long shown major differences in these two groups’ online behavior,” writes Aaron Smith, a senior researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and the report’s co-author. “Smartphones may offer an additional avenue for internet access that surpasses the dial-up experience in many ways, but those who rely on them for home internet use may face limitations that are not shared by those with traditional broadband connections.”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Zuckerberg Explains Facebook’s Plan to Get Entire Planet Online

    Last week, in an effort to reach this lofty goal, the Facebook CEO announced the establishment of, a consortium that allied his company with handset makers (Nokia, Samsung, Ericcson), a browser company (Opera), and network infrastructure manufacturers (Qualcomm, MediaTek). In a 10-page white paper shared on, yes, Facebook, he postulated that a connected world could address economic disparity and outlined a vision of even the poorest people connecting to low-cost, low-data versions of basic Internet services.

    Reaction was mixed, both to the white paper and to the accompanying video, which used a John F. Kennedy speech to amplify a visual message that connectivity leads to better human relations. So WIRED welcomed the opportunity to discuss the plan face-to-face with Zuckerberg on the company’s Menlo Park, California campus. Here is the interview, edited for space and clarity.

    WIRED: You say connectivity is a human right — up there with freedom of expression, freedom from hunger, and other essential rights. Can you explain?

    Zuckerberg: The story of the next century is the transition from an industrial, resource-based economy, to a knowledge economy. An industrial economy is zero sum. If you own an oil field, I cannot go in that same oil field. But knowledge works differently. If you know something, then you can share that — and then the whole world gets richer. But until that happens, there’s a big disparity in wealth. The richest 500 million have way more money than the next 6 billion combined. You solve that by getting everyone online, and into the knowledge economy — by building out the global Internet.

    WIRED: How do you make data cheaper?

    Zuckerberg: We spent a lot of time trying to make our apps run faster, crash less, and have fewer bugs, but until this year, we didn’t spend a huge amount of time on delivering the same experience with less data. It just wasn’t important to a lot of the people who use our services in developed countries. But it’s critically important to the next few billion. In the beginning of this year, the average person used about 12 megabytes for the Android app on Facebook, and I think over the next couple of years, we’re going be able to get that down to one megabyte a day, with very few changes. Since one megabyte is still too much for a lot of the world, the question becomes, Can you get to half a megabyte or a third?

    ‘If we wanted to focus on just making money, the right strategy for us would be to focus solely on the developed countries and the people already on Facebook, increasing their engagement rather than having these other folks join’
    — Mark Zuckerber

  3. Tomi says:

    The Alliance for Affordable Internet

    …is a new coalition of private sector, public sector, and civil society organizations who have come together to advance the shared aim of affordable access to both mobile and fixed-line Internet in developing countries.

    Global sponsors Google, Omidyar Network, UK DFID and USAID joined by a host of governments, tech companies and civil society organisations from developed and developing countries in launch of new initiative, backed by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tech industry-backed Alliance for Affordable Internet aims to bring the developing world online

    The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is a new technology industry group launched publicly today that aims to make Internet access cheaper and more accessible in developing markets.

    The group will focus on emerging technologies such as white space — which Microsoft, Google and others are piloting in Africa — which is seen as key to reducing the cost of Internet access, which could help more of the world’s population to enjoy the benefits of the Web, such as learning and communication.

    The A4AI is initially focused on three markets in Africa, but it aims to cover “at least twelve countries” across Asia, Africa and Latin America by the end of 2015.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New ‘Cosmos’ browser surfs the net by TXT alone
    No data plan? No WiFi? No worries … except sluggish download speed

    A project that’s just landed on github aims to let users in the developing world access Web pages over text messages alone.

    It’s not as absurd an idea as it might first seem

    While the number of mobile phones in the world continues to rise, most of the networks are yet to experience the joys of fast downloads – and in many places, the mobile network is the main contact with the outside world, since fixed networks haven’t been built.

    Enter the Cosmos Browser project: a bit of code that lets users browse the Web using just text messages.

    First, the user enters a URL into the Cosmos app. That URL is sent via text to ColdSauce’s Twillio number, and forwarded as a normal POST request to ColdSauce’s Node.js backend.

    “The backend takes the url, gets the HTML source of the website, minifies it, gets rid of the css, javascript, and images, GZIP compresses it, encodes it in Base64, and sends the data as a series of SMSes”, the post explains.

    Those messages are sent to the browser at the rate of three per second, and back at the phone, the app orders the received data, decompresses it, and displays it.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jessi Hempel / Wired: rebrands its free services mobile website and app as Free Basics to distinguish it from larger initiative, adds 60 new services, HTTPS support

    Facebook Renames Its Controversial App

    Facebook is rebranding its most prominent—and controversial—effort to connect the unconnected. Today the company said it will change the name of its app and mobile website, now available to mobile phone users in 18 countries, to Free Basics by Facebook.

    The change is intended to better distinguish the app and website from, the larger initiative that spawned it and is incubating many technologies and business models to help get the web to new users faster. The rebranding announcement comes days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Facebook’s campus

    Free Basics, née, has faced a global backlash that began in India last April.

    The criticism gained momentum in May when nearly 70 advocacy groups released a letter to Zuckerberg protesting, arguing it violated net neutrality principles and stirred security concerns.

    In a blog post and a video, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the program, saying it didn’t block or throttle services and therefore didn’t conflict with net neutrality. He said it cost too much to make the entire Internet available to everyone; Facebook’s approach was an economically viable way to bring the Internet to people who wouldn’t otherwise have it. “Net neutrality should not prevent access,” he said in a seven-minute video he made in May. “It’s not an equal Internet if the majority of people can’t participate.”

    Opening Up

    Though Zuckerberg defended the spirit of the program, the company also worked quickly to address concerns about equal access, privacy, and security.

    These moves are classic Zuckerberg. Caught slightly off-guard by the backlash, he has moved quickly to address critics’ concerns.


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