Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has launched a new initiative designed to bring people in poorer areas online.
Zuckerberg announced the new Internet.org initiative in a public Facebook post, confirming that the social network has already secured support from numerous other technology companies including Samsung, Qualcomm, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia and Opera Software. The initiative will work to increase the number of people connected to the internet using a three-tier strategy.
The first stage will work to make internet access aﬀordable by delivering data more efficiently. The second will make apps use less data and the third will see the group partner with businesses to develop a new, more cost-effective model to get people online. Zuckerberg claims that by partnering with other tech firms and the wider business community, he expects the initiative to have quantifiable results in five to 10 years' time.
He wrote: "With an organised eﬀort, we think it is reasonable to expect the overall eﬃciency of delivering data to increase by 100 times in the next five to 10 years. This will come from two types of innovation: bringing down the underlying costs of delivering data, and using less data by building more eﬃcient apps.
"If the industry can achieve a 10-times improvement in each of these areas, which we believe is possible, then it becomes economically reasonable to oﬀer free basic services to those who cannot aﬀord them and start to sustainably deliver on the promise of connectivity as a human right."
Zuckerberg said the scheme will lead to a number of business benefits, creating new jobs and opening up whole new markets for companies to target.
"The world economy is going through a massive transition right now. The knowledge economy is the future. By bringing everyone online, we'll not only improve billions of lives, but we'll also improve our own as we beneﬁt from the ideas and productivity they contribute to the world," he wrote.
"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."
Facebook is one of many companies looking to increase the number of people connected to the internet. Mozilla listed getting the next two billion people online as a key goal of its recently launched Firefox OS mobile operating system.