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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 22 September, 2014

Facebook’s latest app is offering developing countries free access to Wikipedia and Google

Mobile users in Zambia will be the first ones to use Internet.org’s new app, which provides them with free basic access to internet services through their phone.

Image: Facebook/Vimeo

FACEBOOK HAS MADE no secret of its intention to bring internet access to everyone worldwide, and it’s taken another step towards this goal with the release of a service that offers developing countries free access to basic internet services.

The Internet.org app, named after the project of the same name, has launched in Zambia, providing people there with access to basic internet services such as health, education, jobs, Wikipedia, Google as well as Facebook’s own apps, without incurring data charges.

Currently, the app is only available on Android, or access it within the Facebook for Android app, and is available to those who use Africa’s mobile service Airtel. The plan is to roll it out to other parts of the world over time.

Announcing the news on his own Facebook page, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it’s working with mobile operators around the world to deliver affordable internet access to everyone, and had already helped three million people with access to it.

Right now, only 15% of people in Zambia have access to the internet. Soon, everyone will be able to use the internet for free to find jobs, get help with reproductive health and other aspects of health, and use tools like Facebook to stay connected with the people they love.

The goal of Internet.org is to connect the entire world to the web. Earlier this year, Facebook purchased UK company Ascenta, which builds high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) aircraft.

Google also has a similar project called Project Loon, which plans to bring internet connectivity to remote areas using high-altitude, wind and solar powered balloons.


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