Facebook is to join forces with several top tech companies to connect as many parts of the world to the internet as possible.
The group Internet.org is to tackle the issues of affordability, data efficiency and access through a number of initiatives in countries where social, economic and other factors have acted as roadblocks.
Founder members, which include Facebook, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung, will develop cheaper devices for internet access, ways of reducing bandwidth consumption and business models that will enable low-cost access.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: "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."
He said only 2.7 billion people — a little more than one third of the world’s population — have internet access and that internet adoption is growing by less than 9% each year.
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Zuckerberg believes that only a coalition of large tech companies is capable of getting around the top roadblocks to internet access in developing markets.
Zuckerberg has posted a mission statement for Internet.org, indicating that its goals are more altruistic than commercial.
“I'm focused on this because I believe it is one of the greatest challenges of our generation," he wrote.
According to Zuckerberg: "The unfair economic reality is that those already on Facebook have way more money than the rest of the world combined, so it may not actually be proﬁtable for us to serve the next few billion people for a very long time, if ever. But we believe everyone deserves to be connected."
He concludes by saying that “connecting the world will be one of the most important things we all do in our lifetimes”.