Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung have formed a partnership called Internet.org with one simple-sounding mission: To connect the remaining two-thirds of the human race, who currently don’t have the Internet, to the Internet. The announcement comes at an interesting time. In June, Google announced its “Project Loon,” a network of stratosphere-wandering balloons aimed at expanding the web, as well.
“I’m focused on this because I believe it is one of the greatest challenges of our generation,” Zuckerberg says. “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.”
The partners will combine their respective expertise, developing technology and working with industries and governments. The main thrust seems to be to use Nokia‘s technological knowledge of phones, along with Ericsson’s understanding of phone infrastructures to develop suitable mobile tech. White space systems may play a part, along with ways to reduce data consumption per user so that the networks aren’t over-burdened. There are challenges, though, such as the fact that 20% of women in the developing world think Internet use is inappropriate for them.
Adoption of the Internet around the world is growing at less than 9% each year, and the intention is to change that. The plan will certainly have benefits for hundreds of millions of people in the developing world, speeding up the expansion of business and other services like health and security. But it’s also unashamedly going to help fill the coffers of Facebook, Nokia, and other partners who all will benefit from more people using their systems and services.