Houston: A year after Facebook introduced Internet.org, the company is making it easier for any mobile operator to sign up to offer free Internet access to basic online services and hopes to add more 4.5 billion users.
Facebook's project to spread Internet access to the developing world isn't just getting older -— it's also targeting new telecommunications partners in hopes of connecting more people to the Web.
Internet.org was first launched in Africa, but has since expanded and is now available in 17 countries -— including countries with very large populations like India -— spanning three continents, but only worked with select operators.
Facebook is now attempting to woo more mobile operators to join the programme, announcing a dedicated portal through which operators can sign up.
It's also courting them with statistics -— like the fact that "Internet.org brings new users onto mobile networks on average over 50 per cent faster after launching free basic services, and more than half... are paying for data and accessing the Internet within the first 30 days" -— suggesting that Internet.org can not only change people's lives, but improve operators' bottom lines.
To help woo those firms, Internet.org is arguing that it represents more than a tool to get the disconnected online: It's also good for the carriers' bottom lines.
In a recent blog Internet.org cites various figures designed to get network operators seeing dollar signs -— or perhaps more accurately, pesos, francs and rupees -— in a possible partnership with Mark Zuckerberg's initiative.
Internet.org brings new users onto mobile networks on average over 50 per cent faster after launching free basic services, and more than half of the people who come online through Internet.org are paying for data and accessing the Internet within the first 30 days.
These points show that Internet.org is not only a successful tool in helping bring people online, but it is successful in showing people the value of the Internet and helping to accelerate its adoption.
In the past month people using Internet.org accessed health services more than a million times.
For cellular carriers in developing countries, these numbers suggest the potential for rapid growth if they keep investing in their data networks and use Internet.org as an onramp.
That could be a compelling message: No mobile Internet provider is going to sign on with Internet.org unless it thinks it'll get something out of it.