[Editor’s Note] This Throwback Thursday revisits the excitement and controversy around Facebook’s Internet.org. In recent news, Facebook announced the next step in the plan to provide remote parts of Africa with Internet access via satellite. Internet.org continues to attract critics, but it is not the only company with a plan to provide Internet to remote locations. Google’s Project Loon pilots in Sri Lanka with a planned March 2016 launch.
Originally Published: October 21,2013
A staggering two-thirds or 5 billion people in the world don’t have access to the internet on any regular basis. And in the U.S., a study by the Pew Internet and American Life revealed that 15 percent of Americans don’t go online at all, citing the reason as lack of affordability. So it’s no surprise that Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and a coalition of tech companies, want to join the world together in what they are referring to as a “Knowledge Economy.”
In recent tech news, from a 3-minute video posted to Facebook’s main page, Zuckerberg, with the help of his internet alliance Internet.org (an organization that was started in hopes of bringing millions online that also includes Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung), claims that the internet can be “100x more affordable, with a combination of technical and political savvy,” as was reported by NBC News in this story.
According to that same story, Zuckerberg explains in order to achieve this they will need to:
“… extend[sic] the range of antennas and relays, infrastructure builders can reach distant areas with fewer towers (and less cost). And by using compression algorithms on everyday data, the amount of bits and bytes needed to watch a video or download an article can be reduced.”
In addition to altering the global infrastructure, Zuckerberg claims that a more finite version of how phones operate will also need to change. Saying that “low-cost, open-source hardware” will be one of the most important and critical aspects needed to keep costs down, as well as more simplistic data-caching and compression of proxies, which will keep usage lower and save battery life.
Thus, a reduction of just a mere 10x of data usage, combined with lowering the cost of connecting to the internet by 10x, will result in a “hundredfold increase in affordability and access.” A very simple formula, indeed.
From the video, Zuckerberg says:
“If we can get to a point where everyone around the world has access to the same tools, then everyone is going to be able to benefit from the innovation and ideas and hard work of billions of people around the world.”
And it’s already begun. Steps by Facebook to make sure it’s app is available on most devices, through its ‘Facebook for Every Phone’ app, is used by more than 100 million monthly active users.
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