7 Global Tech Companies Launch Internet.org To Attract The Unplugged

Written by Dana Sanchez

Through a partnership called Internet.org, seven global tech companies including Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung hope to make the Internet accessible and available to the next five billion people, according to a report in All Africa.

The companies plan to collaborate with other tech partners to test new models that incentivize mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable Internet access than has previously been possible.

Even though Africa’s mobile subscribers have grown to more than 700 million (or about 70 percent of population), Internet penetration still stands at 16 percent, meaning more than 800 million Africans do not have access to the Internet.

Those who do have cell phones may be unable to access the Internet for many reasons. Internet.org hopes to find out why and fix it.

“We believe affordable connectivity and Internet access improve people’s lives and help build a more sustainable planet,” said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson.

“Global Internet and social media access represent the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution, and we want to make it all-inclusive,” said MK Tsai, chairman of MediaTek.

“Universal Internet access will be the next great Industrial Revolution,” said Said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

“Tomorrow, we have a chance to serve the next 5 billion people connecting on mobile devices in developing countries,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software. “Through Internet.org we think we can help advance these goals.”

“Mobile has helped to transform many people’s lives in the emerging regions where often a computing device will be the first and only mobile experience they’ll ever have,” said Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm.

“This new initiative has big potential to help accelerate access to the Internet for everyone,” said JK Shin, CEO and president of IT and mobile communications at Samsung. “We’re focused on delivering high-quality mobile devices to ensure that the next five billion people have great mobile Internet experiences.”

A third of the world’s population – 2.7 billion people -has Internet access, the report said. Internet adoption is growing by less than 9 percent each year – considered slow. Internet.org hopes to make it available to the other two-thirds.

Founding members hope to work with governments to bring the world online. To do this, they plan to focus on three key challenges in developing countries:

Making access affordable: Potential projects include developing lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy Internet access in underserved communities. Mobile operators will play a central role by driving initiatives that benefit the entire ecosystem.

Using data more efficiently: Potential projects include developing data compression tools, enhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data, building systems to cache data efficiently and creating frameworks for apps to reduce data usage.

Helping businesses drive access: This includes localizing services and working with operating system providers and other partners to enable more languages on mobile devices.

Internet.org launched Aug. 22.