You should absolutely be excited about this news if you are in the developing world. Even more so if you are in the developed world. This is because, Internet.org will enable connections between the two “worlds” powered by the internet. The plan is to decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide, and helps expand internet access in underserved communities.
Amidst the #MWC14 brouhaha, Mark Zuckerburg talked about internet.org. Apparently the most expensive part of the smartphone isn’t the phone itself. It’s the data connection!!! Furthermore, it turns out that Facebook wants to connect the whole world and not only 1/7th of the world. No wonder, Mark was talking about internet.org instead of Facebook’s launch of Facebook Paper or even the WhatsApp acquisition. In effect, with the whole world connected, Facebook and WhatsApp would make much more sense.
The founding members of internet.org: Facebook; Ericsson; MediaTek; Nokia; Opera; Qualcomm and Samsung; will develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online. The goal of Internet.org is to bring the same opportunities to everyone that the connected third of the world has today. In order to achieve its goal of connecting the two-thirds of the world who are not yet online, internet.org will focus on three key challenges in developing countries:
- Making access affordable
- Using data more efficiently
- Helping businesses drive access
In his keynote address at #MWC14, Mark said that 80% of the world already lives in an area where there is 2G or 3G access. The issue is, “why bother to connect?” In other words, access to the internet isn’t the problem. Explaining to people with very little disposable income why it is worth it to spend a few dollars on data connection. Good luck!
The way the world works is indeed changing. I wonder how the World Trade Organisation (WTO) feels about internet.org’s plans. I mean the whole concept of knowledge sharing goes against the premises of intellectual property (IP) rights and their protection. Benefiting from innovation and creative ideas that everyone has sounds so rational but how realistic? I guess we are slowly seeing a transformation of world economics also from resource-based to knowledge where the internet is the backbone.
Mark prompts us to:
Imagine a world where everyone had access to education and healthcare information. A world where farmers could look up information to improve their crop yields, and students could consult Wikipedia to help out with their homework.
Sounds like the Facebook founder is engaging in some fantasizing that we did not too long ago when we wished certain thing for Zambia. Doesn’t Mark’s prompt sound like he is actually addressing our country though? Think about it! We’ll admit that there is less fantasizing on his part because they’ve actually started doing something about this dream of connecting the whole world. Perhaps if we can all dream together, this will be a reality no sooner.