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Zuckerberg Unveils Plan To Expand Global Internet Access

Facebook founder's latest project, called Internet.org, aims to bring Internet access to everyone by lowering costs, simplifying data plans.

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More than 1.15 billion people use Facebook today and about 2.7 billion people have access to the Internet. But that's not enough for Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg -- he wants that number to grow. Tuesday he announced plans on his Facebook page to bring Internet access to the billions of people who lack it through an initiative called Internet.org.

Tech giants Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung are partners in Internet.org, which aims to drastically cut the costs of delivering basic Internet services on mobile phones, particularly in developing countries where Facebook and other tech companies are seeking new users.

In a 10-page document, Zuckerberg discusses the state of the Internet, why connectivity is an important problem for the world, the major issues that need to be solved and his plans to accomplish the goal.

The cost of smartphone data access is the main hindrance in bringing Internet to more people, Zuckerberg said. Although the cost of smartphones is dropping, data plans in the U.S. cost about $1,500 per year -- a figure that the 4 billion feature phone users across the globe can't afford.

[ Why let Facebook decide what you see? Take control of your news feed: read 5 Ways to Customize Facebook News Feed. ]

Facebook has taken steps to better reach the feature phone market. Last month, it announced that its Facebook For Every Phone app garnered more than 100 million monthly users.

Zuckerberg noted other roadblocks to bringing Internet to more people: many people don't have phones; those with could afford a data plan don't understand the need for it because they've never used the Internet; and the global infrastructure required to deliver the Internet is expensive.

Zuckerberg's three-pronged plan focuses on making Internet access affordable by making it more efficient to deliver data, using less data by improving the efficiency of apps. and helping businesses drive Internet access by developing a new model to get people online. Here's a breakdown of its plan.

Focus on affordability. To make Internet access more affordable, Zuckerbergs says the industry needs to focus on improvements that could increase the capacity of networks, which will cause the cost per megabyte to decrease dramatically. Facebook's Open Compute Project has been working on such solutions, he said.

"In addition to servers and data centers, there is now a project to create an open network switch design for Internet data centers. Anything that makes networks more efficient will ultimately increase the efficiency of delivering data and bring down costs for people worldwide," Zuckerberg wrote.

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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 5:02:35 PM
re: Zuckerberg Unveils Plan To Expand Global Internet Access
I guess it becomes hard for Facebook to project much growth with so many people already using the service.
Alex Kane Rudansky
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Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 9:06:47 PM
re: Zuckerberg Unveils Plan To Expand Global Internet Access
Right -- the only thing to do next? Get more people online --> more people on Facebook.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2013 | 5:38:34 PM
re: Zuckerberg Unveils Plan To Expand Global Internet Access
Oh yeah, I'm sure AT&T, Verizon, etc are just dying to reduce data plan cost. It will probably go down in cost just as fast as cable/satellite TV service has in last 20 years with all the advances in tech.
What good does data compression do on content when you are charged a flat amount per gig of usage? Then you'll just pay the same for data you didn't even use. I'll believe this fairy tale when I see it happen.
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