The new effort that aims to give Internet access to two-thirds of the world who are not yet online has come a few months after Google released 30 helium-filled balloons for Project Loon that intends to provide Internet access to rural and remote areas.
Internet.org too, wants to make access affordable, using data more efficiently and helping businesses drive access. The founders say they have been influenced by the success of the Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative that has lowered the costs of cloud computing by making hardware designs more efficient and innovative.
According to Facebook, the partners will think of ways to use less data by improving the efficiency of the apps built and how they can help businesses drive internet access to get people online. They also want to develop technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. This means there will be collaborations to develop lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in underserved communities.
Mobile operators will play a central role in this effort by driving initiatives that benefit the entire ecosystem. 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. By reducing the cost and amount of data required for most apps and enabling new business models, Internet.org is focused on enabling the next 5 billion people to come online.
"There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. 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," says Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook. He later posted more details on Facebook and a link to ahumanright.org an organization "charged with bringing low cost internet access to the world" and started by Kosta Grammatis who is currently raising funds to support a bunch of initiatives. (Listed below)
“This new initiative has big potential to help accelerate access to the Internet for everyone,” said JK Shin, CEO and President of the IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics.
“We’re focused on delivering high quality mobile devices to ensure that the next five billion people have great mobile Internet experiences.” The Internet.org website launches today and provides an overview of the mission and goals, as well as a full list of the partners. In the coming weeks, it will feature interviews with technology leaders and experts, along with the latest news on Internet.org activities.
Author's take: Phone makers, tech companies and Internet giants have already been working on several projects to help more people connect to the Internet. This is not an innovation but appears to be a good initiative because the more the hands the better. Other initiatives to give Internet access to developing countries and rural areas include:
Google Free Zone Allows users to access Google+, Gmail, and Google Search on their mobile phone without incurring data charges
Zero Facebook A mobile site launched in 2010 that gives free access to all of the key features of Facebook but is optimized for speed.
AHumanRight.org lists the following projects it supports and is raising funds for what it calls 'The Bandwidth Bank' which it says will be a repository of unused cellular, satellite and wired Internet to connect as many people as possible.
1. Move this cable: The most isolated island in the world was to be narrowly missed by a planned fiber optic cable. We aimed to change that by petitioning for the route of the cable to be adjusted, moving the cable 500 km south, and connecting some 4,200 island people. St Helena, a British overseas territory lacked proper Internet access, the transatlantic cable called “South Atlantic Express (SAex)” would allow the tiny island to join our digital civilization improving standards of education, health care, as well as offering new economic prospects. The project was succesfull, in mid 2012 the cable's path was changed.
2. Web the film: What happens when children, isolated in the Peruvian Amazon, experience the Internet for the first time? With interviews from luminaries like Vint Cerf, Jimmy Wales, Nicholas Negroponte, and Clay Shirky Web explores the possibilities that emerge when the disconnected get online, and what it means for our future.
3. Buy this satellite: During the Arab Spring, A Human Right launched an advocacy initiative to crowd fund the purchase of a satellite from a bankrupt company and move it over a number of developing countries to provide ultra low cost Internet access. The initiative garnered significant media coverage, informing millions of people that there still exists a significant digital divide, and we can do something about it.