August 21, 2013
Zuckerberg Wants To Deliver Internet To The Whole World
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announed yesterday his plans to give Internet access to nearly five billion people around the world who currently don't have it. In an essay titled "Is connectivity a human right?" Zuckerberg offers a "rough plan" on how he wants to deliver the Internet to the rest of the non-connected world.
To achieve this goal, Zuckerberg has also started a coalition called Internet.org which counts his own company as well as Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung as founding partners. In a press release, the companies say they'll deliver Internet to the masses by making access affordable, reducing the amount of data used to load applications and websites, and providing businesses with access.
Zuckerberg isn’t the first to want to connect the world to the Internet. Google has produced two ways in which they can deliver access to rural communities in Africa via television white space and broadcasting blimps. And, just like Google before them, Facebook also plans to use white space television spectrum to fuel their plans.
"Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect," explained Zuckerberg in a statement announcing Internet.org.
“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."
The coalition is focused on delivering the Internet to handheld devices rather than desktop computers. In his connectivity manifesto, Zuckerberg mentions the falling cost of connected devices such as featurephones and smartphones. Though more people will be able to buy smartphones soon, they may not be able to afford the data to connect these phones to the Internet, claims Zuckerberg. He also believes the whole world is better off if information and knowledge are shared, something he believes will be easier if more people have access to an open Internet.
“Giving everyone the opportunity to connect is the foundation for enabling the knowledge economy. It is not the only thing we need to do, but it’s a fundamental and necessary step,” he writes.
While Internet.org is focused on making data more affordable for those who have yet to join the Internet, they also say they’ll look inward and make their offerings “dramatically” less data intensive. To do this, they say they’ll develop new data compression tools, tweak the networks to efficiently deliver the data, and build data caching systems for a leaner network. In his essay, Zuckerberg says they expect the “overall efficiency” of delivering data to increase by 100 percent in the next five to 10 years.
The coalition will also discuss which Internet services should require a paid data plan to access. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zuckerberg also notes social networking, messaging, search engines and Wikipedia should be free and not require a data plan.
Finally, Internet.org says they’re inspired by the Open Compute Project, a coalition which counts Facebook as a founding member. This group works to use data more efficiently and share this data with one another. Facebook’s data centers, for instance, were built with help from the Open Compute Project and give anyone in the connected world a view of how efficiently Facebook’s data centers are running. The work done by the project will be used to deliver Internet access to businesses in the non-connected world to efficiently use their data, making it more affordable for all.