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Facebook to connect the world with Internet.org

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has launched a new project aimed at bringing affordable Internet access to the developing world. Called Internet.org, the effort brings together leading global technology firms.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that, in addition to his company, Internet.org included mobile phone giants Samsung and Nokia, telecom firm Ericsson, chip maker Qualcomm and as software manufacturers Opera and Media Tek.

The project was aimed at enabling around 5 billion people in the developing world without Internet access to come online in five to ten years, Zuckerberg said in a statement.

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

Facebook said the group would focus primarily on mobile connectivity, including making Internet access more affordable for billions of people in the developing world who were already using cell phones for talks and text.

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In addition, it would seek to reduce the amount of data needed to run apps and power the Internet. Finally, the plan was to offer incentives to mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other business to lower the cost of access.

The project comes as Facebook is seeking to expand its base of about 1.1 billion users as the social network's markets in the industrialized world are nearing saturation.

In June, Facebook rival Google already launched a pilot program called Project Loon, which aims to bring reliable Internet access to remote world regions with solar-powered, high-altitude balloons.

uhe/dr (dpa, Reuters)

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