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How Mark Zuckerberg intends to have everyone on Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg wants to make sure sure every single person on Earth has access to the net. The CEO of Facebook took action last week to push that agenda by announcing the creation of the website internet.org. It is expected to be a consortium bringing together all the big players involved in internet related technologies. Among other companies involved, there are handset makers like Nokia and Samsung but also network infrastructure manufacturers and one browser company (Opera).
The CEO postulated on his social network that with a connected world, economic disparities could be easily address. His vision is to hopefully get the poorest people in the world at least have access to an affordable low cost type of internet.
WIRED had the chance to sit down with the man himself and discuss how he planned to achieve that vision. Here is a summary of the discussion that went on.
The first question for the interview was about the reason why he wanted to spread the internet around the world. The CEO’s reply was that it takes billions of dollars to put up the infrastructure necessary to connect people in developing countries. The governments out there can’t afford it and no one company either can make it happen. Meanwhile the internet has turned out to be a necessary tool to improve the world. There are governments around that have shown interest in this type idea and the coalition is willing to seize the momentum and build something for the next 3 to 5 years.
Wired then went on to ask Zuckerberg about what he meant when he said “connectivity is a human right”. His reply was that the world is moving from an industrial, resource based economy to a knowledge economy. It is only by spreading the knowledge that people in the poorest nations can also get richer but that is not going to happen until everybody gets connected.
Zuckerberg’s answer to the previous question was then challenged. WIRED pointed out that even in the United States, in spite of the knowledge economy, the income disparity is still getting worse. His reply was that there is still some ground work to be done in the country to make sure that every household in the US has the internet.
The question was raised as to whether or not the consortium was really necessary, considering the fact that phones are getting cheaper anyway. The CEO’s replied by pointing out that having a cheap phone does not mean having access to an affordable data plan. The focus here is to provide internet dial tones for free.
The next point had to do witht the consortium was planning on to get data download cheaper. Zuckerberg pointed out that it is about time app developers focus on creating apps that offer the same experience to users without them having to download much data. On average, an Android user may have to download 12 megabytes worth of data to enjoy Facebook via the app. By finding a way to cut down the amount of data necessary to have the same experience, more people should be able to afford the data bundles.
The telecom carriers aren’t yet on this consortium and Zuckerberg was asked if this was eventually going to change. His reply was that more folks are going to join over time and that would certainly include not just carriers but also non-carriers.
It was also pointed out that other consumer internet companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google were not yet on the consortium. The Facebook CEO was asked if he invited them. His answer was that they’ve been in touch with Microsoft and Google and that he hopes overtime, they join the cause.
So who would pay for this type of affordable internet? The answer Zuckerberg had to that question is, even though the idea to make basic internet as affordable as possible to the poorest nation, as they get access to information and discover new content that enables them to improve on their lives, they would eventually make use of more data and that will profit the data carriers. So at the end of the day, operators will still make more money even though the overall cost of the net will be cheaper.
WIRED also made mention of the fact that some critics said the whole idea about internet.org for Facebook is to increase the number of users. The CEO did not object to that suggestion but he also stressed on the fact that out that the current users already on the social network have more money than the rest of the 6 billion left out. So if his company was only interested in making money, the best strategy would be to focus on developed countries. Read More about the Facebook Profile.
If you want to read the full conversation just head to Wired