Facebook ceo forms group to expand internet access -->
By Barbara Ortutay
The Associated Press
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to get all of the world's 7 billion people online through a partnership with some of the largest mobile technology companies. He says the Web is an essential part of life, and everyone deserves to be connected, whether they live in Norway, Nicaragua or Namibia.
To get there, Facebook on Wednesday announced a partnership called Internet.org. It includes Samsung, Nokia, and wireless chip maker Qualcomm Inc.Ericsson, Web browser developer Opera Software, and MediaTek, another wireless semiconductor company, also are founding members of Internet.org. More companies are expected to join.
Google Inc., which is not a part of the Internet.org effort, launched a similar undertaking earlier this year with the goal of getting everyone on Earth online. Called Project Loon, the effort launched Internet-beaming antennas aloft on giant helium balloons.
Facebook said the group's goal is to "make Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected" - about 5 billion people.
If the effort pays off, Facebook will grow its user base, advertising revenue and influence. Business and philanthropy, in this case, can go hand in hand, said Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson, author of "New New Media."
Internet.org's plans, still in an early, rough-draft phase, include developing cheaper smartphones and tools that would reduce the amount of data required to run mobile applications.
Javier Olivan, vice president of growth and analytics at Facebook, said the company's move continues what it already has been doing to get more people online. This includes "Facebook For Every Phone," an app that launched in 2011 to let people with simple, non- smartphones use Facebook. The company says it has invested more than $1 billion so far to connect people in the developing world to the Internet.
According to research group Internet World Stats, about 16 percent of Africa's population is online, compared with 28 percent in Asia, 43 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean and 79 percent in North America.