• 08/21/2013
    11:57 AM
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Zuckerberg Unveils Plan To Expand Global Internet Access

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

Use less data. To encourage less data use, Zuckerberg said Facebook is focused on enabling caching, data compression and other simple efficiency optimizations. These are steps that the industry can take on, too. "People with feature phones are very cost-conscious, so one of the most important things we've done has been to make this experience use as little data as possible by caching data effectively so we can be very careful about which data we ever have to request from our servers," he wrote.

Data compression and efficiency optimization also play an important role. Implementing compression in large-scale apps or developing services that you route all your data through for compression would yield up to five times the savings, he said. Frequently used apps should generally be forced to consume less data to begin with. Facebook plans to reduce its Android app from using about 12MB per day to 1MB per day just by enacting these steps, he said.

Help businesses drive access. Because most people who haven't grown up with the Internet don't understand data plans or data usage, Zuckerberg says businesses need to be creative in how it offers Internet access.

"The Internet and data are abstract concepts. Most people don't want data; they want the services you can use it for," he said. "However, if you ask the same person if they want Facebook access, they're more likely to say yes." Zuckerberg says this can be achieved by zero-rating data -- which Facebook has already done for developing nations -- and improving credit infrastructure to enable businesses to make longer-term investments in their customers.

Charlene Li, principle analyst and founder of Altimeter Group, says that Zuckerberg's plan is ambitious but feasible. "From the technical side, their plan is completely doable. The reason something like this may not work is because it's not sustainable over time," Li said. "But all of the players involved [in] have a stake in seeing more people use their services, so they'll continue to invest in the project."

The true test, Li said, is how willing is to accept outside partners. "What happens when other organizations want to participate, such as Microsoft? Right now Facebook is the only service involved. I'd like to see what happens when others are interested in joining," she said.

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