Social networking giant Facebook has joined forces with six other technology giants, including the likes of Nokia and Samsung to launch ‘internet.org’ with an aim to make Internet access affordable for people across the globe.
Focussed on enabling the next five billion people without access to come online, the founding members of the project include Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung.
The inititiave will see the partners collaborate on developing lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and deploying Internet access in underserved communities.
"Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect.
“There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy," Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
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 added.
"Our industry is now at an exciting inflection point where Internet connectivity is becoming more affordable and efficient for consumers while still offering them great experiences. Universal internet access will be the next great industrial revolution," Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop said.
Internet.org is influenced by the "Open Compute Project", an industry-wide initiative that has lowered the costs of cloud computing by making hardware designs more efficient and innovative.
Today, about 2.7 billion people or over one-third of the world's population have access to the internet and its adoption is growing by less than nine per cent annually.
Mobile has helped to transform many people's lives in the emerging regions where often a computing device will be the first and only mobile experience they'll ever have, Qualcomm Chairman of the board and CEO Paul Jacobs said.
"The goal of Internet.org 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," Zuckerberg said.
The partners will also invest in tools to ‘dramatically’ reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and internet experiences.
Potential projects include developing data compression tools, enhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data, building systems to cache data efficiently and creating frameworks for apps to reduce data usage, the statement said.