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5 billion to be connected online through new global initiative

Network cable wrapped around a globe depicting a connected worldSeven global technology firms have come together to form a partnership which aims to make the internet access and available to the next 5 billion people in the world.

Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera Qualcomm and Samsung have formed internet.org and agreed to collaborate in developing and adopting technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide.

This includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable internet access than has previously been possible.

Internet.org comes at a time when internet penetration in Africa remains very low. Even though Africa’s mobile subscriptions have grown to over 700 million (or about 70% of population) by 2013, internet penetration still stands at 16% of population – meaning that over 800 million Africans do not have access to the Internet.

Looked at differently, this also means that not all those with mobile handsets are able to access the internet due to many factors – ranging from cost of data-enabled devices to cost data.

Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, Samsung and other partners will build on existing partnerships while exploring new ways to collaborate to solve these problems.

“We believe affordable connectivity and internet access improves people’s lives and helps build a more sustainable planet and therefore we are excited to participate in the internet.org initiative,” said Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson.

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is about giving people the power to connect around the world.

“There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy,” said Zuckerberg.

“Our industry is now at an exciting inflection point where Internet connectivity is becoming more affordable and efficient for consumers while still offering them great experiences. Universal internet access will be the next great industrial revolution,” added Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop.

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Currently, only 2.7 billion people – just over one third of the world’s population – have access to the internet. Internet adoption is growing by less than 9% each year, which is slow considering how early we are in its development.

The goal of Internet.org is therefore to make internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected, and to bring the same opportunities to everyone that the connected third of the world has today.

The founding members of internet.org — Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung — will develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments to bring the world online.

Internet.org is influenced by the successful Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative that has lowered the costs of cloud computing by making hardware designs more efficient and innovative.

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