It’s barely a year ago that Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, revealed Internet.org, an initiative that looks to lower the barriers to internet access in developing nations around the world.
Earlier today, the Facebook backed non-profit announced the official first launch of the service in Zambia, in collaboration with Airtel Zambia, by way of an Android app which users can install by pointing their browsers to www.internet.org.
Internet.org Product Manager, Guy Rosen said in a statement that, “over 85% of the world’s population lives in areas with existing cellular coverage, yet only about 30% of the total population accesses the internet. Affordability and awareness are significant barriers to internet adoption for many and today we are introducing the Internet.org app to make the internet accessible to more people by providing a set of free basic services”.
The Android app will give Airtel subscribers in Zambia access to a set of useful health, employment and local information services, free of data charges. The services include AccuWeather, Airtel website, eZeLibrary, Facebook, Facts for Life, Google Search, Go Zambia Jobs, Kokoliko, MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action), Messenger, Wikipedia, WRAPP (Women’s Rights App) and Zambia uReport.
“By providing free basic services via the app, we hope to bring more people online and help them discover valuable services they might not have otherwise”, says Guy Rosen.
Facebook is not new to the zero-rated internet space. They’ve been offering Facebook Zero in partnership with local telcos in developing nations for a while now. The concept is not limited to Facebook either. Similar services like Wikipedia Zero and Google Free Zone come to mind.
The Internet.org app will be available only to Airtel subscribers in Zambia for now. But the company plans to continue improving the experience and roll it out to other parts of the world.