Facebook eyes 4.5 bn users with Internet.org

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook aims to bring 4.5 billion users online with Internet.org; opens new portal to expand the reach.

Facebook Inc plans to scale up its service to offer free basic Internet on mobile phones, an executive said, after introducing the application in 17 developing countries over the past year. With Internet.org turning one this week, Facebook’s project to spread Internet access to the developing world isn’t just getting older — it’s also targeting new telecommunications partners in hopes of connecting more people to the Web. In a blog post released to mark the first year of the initiative, Facebook said it will open a portal allowing any mobile operator to offer the service under its Internet.org platform. According to The Verge, Internet.org began with initial launches in Africa, but it has since expanded to cover 17 countries, including large populations like Pakistan, India and Indonesia across three continents.

Facebook also courting them with statistics like Internet.org brings new users onto mobile networks on average over 50 percent faster after launching free basic services and more than half are paying for data and accessing the internet within the first 30 days suggesting that Internet.org can not only change people’s lives, but improve operators’ bottom lines. Facebook developed the platform with six technology partners to bring an estimated 4.5 billion unconnected people online, mainly in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Internet.org is often accused of allowing access to only preferred websites Facebook said in its blog post that its goal was to work with as many mobile operators and developers as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity. To help woo those firms, Internet.org is arguing that it represents more than a tool to get the disconnected online: It’s also good for the carriers’ bottom lines. But there have been hiccups along the way – most notably in India, where the very concept of using the Internet.org app as the way Indians access the Internet has raised troubling questions about Facebook’s role.

The Internet.org application, launched in India in February in partnership with Reliance Communications, faced backlash with a number of leading technology and Internet firms pulling out of the service after activists claimed it violated the principles of a neutral Internet. “I would say India is unique in that respect and very much an outlier. These points show that Internet.org is not only a successful tool in helping bring people online, but it is successful in showing people the value of the internet and helping to accelerate its adoption.… For cellular carriers in developing countries, these numbers suggest the potential for rapid growth if they keep investing in their data networks and use Internet.org as an onramp. Facebook claims it’s a gateway, but there’s something that rubs people the wrong way when they are told which sites are free, and which are not, and how they must access them.

That could be a compelling message: No mobile Internet provider is going to sign on with Internet.org unless it thinks it’ll get something out of it. Well, 9 million people is a good start in Year 1, but we’re talking about an entire order of magnitude here to reach 90 million, and then another order of magnitude to reach 900 million users. That’s one reason why Facebook is taking the one-year anniversary of Internet.org as a way to announce the next big stage – the rollout to more partners, to more developers and to more users.

According to data released by Facebook, the moneymaking potential of Internet.org for all these partners and developers seems to be based on reality rather than just hype. This means that if the plan for bringing on board more developers takes off, it could result in new health apps and new mobile wellness options, especially for the world’s rural populations.

That would help to silence critics who see plans to wire the earth with Internet as unfocused on the planet’s real problems, such as finding a cure for malaria.

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