In an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang that aired on Feb. 19, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened up about how Facebook will expand on its operating partnership plans through Internet.org, emphasizing the need for connectivity among people on key aspects like health and government services, as well as offering free, basic Internet available via phone in developing countries.
Internet.org, according to Zuckerberg, is not meant to be a profitable venture for Facebook in the short-term. In fact, Zuckerberg told Chang that it wouldn’t be profitable due to the lack of demand for data in certain countries and limited advertising partnerships available. Yet this is not a top concern for Internet.org — nor is expanding Facebook into nations like China, since many places have Facebook already. Internet.org’s goal is to bring essential Internet-based services to the two-thirds of the world that isn’t connected, specifically to link people to key information so that local businesses can grow and vital public information can get out to the masses efficiently.
“If you look at things like text, text-message services like search or Wikipedia, or basic financial or health information, can be delivered relatively cheaply and can consume less than 1 percent of the overall infrastructure,” Zuckerberg stated regarding the need for a few essential Internet services that can be up and running at low cost rather than a full Internet structure.
Part of the way Internet.org can distribute these services is through operating partnerships, like those with Google with Google’s Project Loon and Google Fiber. In terms of working with Google, Zuckerberg mentioned that “no single company can do it themselves” regarding worldwide connectivity, citing Internet.org’s emphasis on being a partnership of different companies, rather than just Facebook’s creation. Facebook and Google contribute “separate functions” to the project that are both necessary for it to work.
One example of the successful partnership was in Zambia, which Facebook recently entered. Zuckerberg mentioned that Google was in the Internet.org “suite” there. During the Ebola outbreak, Facebook was contacted to help link health officials together to create an information sharing network, of which Google was a big part of the operation. In terms of connectivity, Zuckerberg preached about taking this slowly by building sustainable, free Internet that isn’t data rich, but will eventually become so once people realize the importance of purchasing data for business and governmental purposes.
For now though, it’s about simple connectivity and access to crucial information, no matter where one lives.