2014 m. liepos 10 d., ketvirtadienis

Zuckerberg Seeks World-Wide Connectivity

In a recent editorial published in the Wall Street journal, facebook creator and chief Mark Zuckerberg outlined a vision in which everyone in the whole world have equal opportunities to connect to the internet. According to him, ideally the world wide web should be like other basic services such as the 911 line which can be used for free even if you don’t have a data plan on your phone. This would mean making the internet easily affordable to everyone in any place of the world. According to Zuckerberg, “connecting everyone is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation”.

In the report Zuckerberg claims that expanding connectivity to the whole world would be a major factor for the progress of humanity. The internet is today the basis of the economy which he describes as knowledge economy, and getting connected would mean being able to participate in it. The internet is a major driver of economic growth in developing countries, and, according to a study that Zuckerberg cites, expanding connectivity to these areas would create 140 million jobs and lift 160 people out of poverty.

As if echoing the idea of the ‘global village’, Zuckerbeg mentions an another aspect of a fully connected world: according to him, “perhaps the most important change might be a new global sense of community.” Creating a possibility for the whole world to connect would make the voices of the other two-thirds of the world population heard.

In the editorial Zuckerberg mentions statistics according to which currently only about one third of the world population is able to connect to the internet. The developing world is obviously the least connected: according to statistics, only 31 percent of its population are internet users, when 77 percent are connected in the developed world; only 16 percent of the population are connected in Africa. Zuckerberg also mentions that internet connectivity is growing by less then 9 percent every year. This slow growth and the large unconnected parts of the world population are not necessarily due to technical inability to make the connection available to them. According to Zuckerberg, “almost 90% of the world's population already lives within range of an existing cellular network”. Thus, in addition to expanding the range of networks to 100 percent, the goal should also be universal affordability.

According to Zuckerberg, these ideas are not just utopian visions. He claims a goal like this is not impossible to achieve and things are already being done. He mentions Internet.org – a joint global project by facebook, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, Opera, Mediatek, Ericsson, Qualcomm, non-profit organizations and experts. The effort seeks to “explore solutions in major opportunity areas: affordability, efficiency and business models” and to “remove barriers and give billions of people the power to connect.” Part of the project is the Connectivity Lab at facebook, which does research into new technologies that would make the connection even of remote areas of the world possible.

In a report on the state of the project, Zuckerberg also mentions some results that have already been achieved in partnership with Globe and TIGO, such as increasing the number of people using internet by 50 % in Paraguay and doubling the number of people using mobile data in the Philipines by giving people free access to apps, making it easier to register for a data plan and to get a loan for their plan. According to the facebook creator, all though these early results are indeed promising, there is still a lot of work to be done for a truly global connectivity to be achieved.

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