Seven global technology firms - Facebook; Ericsson; MediaTek; Nokia; Opera; Qualcomm and Samsung - have come together to form a partnership which aims to make the internet access and available to the next 5 billion people in the world.
Through the partnership - called internet.org - the firms will collaborate with other technology partners to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. This includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable internet access than has previously been possible.
Internet.org comes at a time when internet penetration in Africa remains very low. Even though Africa's mobile subscriptions have grown to over 700 million (or about 70 percent of population) by 2013, internet penetration still stands at 16 percent of population - meaning that over 800 million Africans do not have access to the Internet.
Looked at differently, this also means that not all those with mobile handsets are able to access the internet due to many factors - ranging from cost of data-enabled devices to cost data.
Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, Samsung and other partners will build on existing partnerships while exploring new ways to collaborate to solve these problems.
Said Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson: "We believe affordable connectivity and internet access improves people's lives and helps build a more sustainable planet and therefore we are excited to participate in the internet.org initiative."
Facebook founder and CEO said: "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."
MK Tsai, Chairman of MediaTek said: "Global Internet and social media access represent the biggest shift since the industrial revolution, and we want to make it all-inclusive."
Said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop: "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."
Lars Boilesen, CEO Opera Software, said: "Today, more than 300 million people use Opera every month to access the Internet. Tomorrow, we have a chance to serve the next 5 billion people connecting on mobile devices in developing countries. It's in Opera's DNA to save people time, money and data, and throughinternet.org we think we can help advance these goals."