Facebook Wants to Give Internet to 5 Billion People

Mark Zuckerberg has a dream. And if we’ve learned anything from the ‘Social Network’ is that what the Facebook founder wants, the Facebook founder gets.
This time, Zuckerberg wants to give Internet to 5 billion people. Just imagine how many new Facebook users that means.

Joking aside, and trying to ignore the profit such an enterprise could bring, Facebook has actually teamed up with several tech giants to set up Internet.org, an organization whose main target is to bring the WWW to those parts of the world that still don’t have access to it. Other founding members include Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung, among others.

The organization names three major lines of action to reach their goals of offering widespread Internet access as a means to boost social, economic and political development and contribute to humankind progress, according to a UN Human Rights Council quote posted on the Internet.org website.

The first step is to make Internet access more affordable, possibly by using high quality, yet lower cost smartphones. The second step is to use data in a more efficient manner; more specifically, to reduce the amount of data most Internet applications require, and one way to achieve this is by improving the infrastructure.  And the third step would be to bring in businesses that would support the project by offering them incentives.
One can’t ignore that this is quite an ambitious plan, even if it is far from being an altruistic one. All the companies involved, Facebook included, would benefit from bringing Internet to 5 billion people. According to the group, only a little over one third of the world’s population, 2.7 billion people have Internet access at the moment.

In an interview with CNN, Zuckerberg insisted that connectivity is a human right and would offer people access to things such as healthcare and information about their country’s state of affairs, ultimately helping them decide what sort of government they want.

Which is truly admirable, but it will take a lot of time until the plan can become reality, according to analysts. One of the major issues that the Internet.org initiative will have to overcome is the lack of a constant electricity supply in most developing countries that the program is targeting. Other problems include the lack of proper infrastructure, poverty and illiteracy.
In other words, all those billions of new Facebook users won’t be able to share much and tag themselves in photos if they can’t read or only have enough electricity to check their feed only a couple of times per week.

So overall, the Internet.org plan to bring Internet to 5 billion people is a good idea, but unlikely to happen any time soon. What do you think of the initiative? Should the tech giants behind it focus on other priority issues for the developing world before going ahead with the connectivity idea?