The Internet is thought of as being a global infrastructure that breaks down barriers, blurs physical boundaries and renders distance meaningless. But for two thirds of the world, Internet access is just not available, and this is something that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to change.
Working in conjunction with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung, Internet.org is an initiative that aims to help bring web access to the five billion people who are not yet connected.
If this seems like a huge venture, you'd be right and the founders accept that it is a "goal too large and too important for any one company, group, or government to solve alone". However, by pooling resources and expertise, it is hoped that headway can be made.
Internet.org’s commendable aim is set out in a humbling and inspiring mission statement which recognizes three main obstacles to global Internet availability -- cost, bandwidth and suitable business models.
The project partners plan to work together to help develop lower cost technologies and hardware that can be used around the world; the role of the mobile operators who are involved is clearly key. Whether Internet access is delivered through a computer, a smartphone or a device yet to be imagined, bandwidth is needed, and in many parts of the world this is at a premium.
Internet.org wants to help improve the efficiency of data delivery, in part through the use of new compression techniques. But even once this has been done, there is the issue of giving people access to the Internet. This is where the third phase comes into play, helping to enable as many people as possible to make use of the web, regardless of where they are and what language they speak.
The prospect of getting 5 billion people online is quite a daunting one. It is not something one person or one company could tackle alone, so this new partnership makes a great deal of sense. If Mark Zuckerberg and friends manage to work their magic, the Internet could become a truly global beast.