Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative launched last year with the goal of helping make the internet available to the entire world. Internet.org is taking a big step towards this by launching an Android app that provides free data access to services like Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and more. The app will be available in Zambia initially, with plans to extend it to other developing markets over time. While Android users can simply download a standalone version, all of the services can also be accessed freely through internet.org on feature phones, or from within Facebook’s Android app. Internet.org has partnered with Airtel in Zambia to provide the free data access, and the initiative has been focusing on developing business models to incentivize companies to provide cheaper internet access in specific regions.
Alongside the app launch, Internet.org is also experimenting with drones and satellites to deliver internet to remote areas, and Nokia phones to bring online classes to Rwanda. Initiatives like Google’s Project Loon and Mozilla’s Firefox OS are also trying to address similar goals, but Internet.org has created a partnership of technology companies like Facebook, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung to improve internet access worldwide. Internet.org partnerships have helped millions get online in countries like the Philippines, Paraguay, and Tanzania. With only around 30 percent of the world’s population accessing the internet, this latest app effort in Zambia will surely help improve upon that small percentage.