This is only the beginning of what is meant to be a wider rollout that will include more countries in the future.
Facebook has now announced that its latest mobile app, which is available in only one country through one wireless operator – is now taking on a unique strategy to grow the social network in the developing world, by providing free internet access.
The company has now launched an Internet.org app which will provide free basic internet to users.
The mobile app is compatible with Android devices that run on the Airtel mobile network. It provides internet access specifically for Facebook, in addition to that social network’s instant messaging service. Users will also be able to access Google, Wikipedia, AccuWeather, and a number of other local health and job related services such as the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action and Women’s Rights App, and Go Zambia Jobs.
This mobile app provides the free internet access through a deal between Airtel and Facebook.
The agreement between Facebook and the mobile operator means that people who are using the application on their Android smartphone will not be required to pay data charges for the use of any of those online services. Guy Rosen, the product management director at Facebook, wrote in a blog post on the subject that “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.”
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Rosen also pointed out in his post that Facebook has every intention to “continue to improve the experience and roll it out to other parts of the world,” as it enters into more agreements with local wireless operators, particularly in developing countries.
The Internet.org mobile app initiative was originally launched by Facebook at this time last year. Its founder members also included Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, MediaTek, and Opera. It defines its goals as to be able to eliminate the barriers to online connection that exist within developing nations and spread the “knowledge economy” through the reduction of the costs associated with accessing the internet by way of smartphones and other mobile devices.