Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly stated that it is the regular network carriers that will expand the reach of the Internet in today’s world, and not sci-fi ideas like Google’s Project Loon or Titan drones.
The loon is essentially a high-altitude balloon that delivers Internet access to people in rural areas. The project Titan serves the same purpose except, from solar powered drone airplanes. Zuckerberg, in an interview at the Mobile World Congress show, goes on record to state that despite the recent obsession with these projects, it is the network operators that do most of the work.
Zuckerberg has acted as a major catalyst to the project called Internet.org which works in tandem with mobile network carriers. The essential idea behind this effort is to offer free access to a number of Internet services like Facebook. It is an initiative to get people online and draw them into the world of the Internet. Carriers build the infrastructure to support the new customers who will gradually upgrade to higher end services and is therefore mutually effective and beneficial.
Despite initial worries about the system moving to a free tier, the project has proved to be effective as partners have witnessed a marginal increase in the ARPU (Average Revenue per User). The project has seen positive results in countries where people were already exposed to widespread Internet usage.
However, the project isn’t completely faultless. Since text messages are major source of revenue for mobile operators, the introduction of free Internet-based SMS services like WhatsApp is eating into this revenue as stated by Jon Fredrik Baksaas, CEO of global carrier the Telenor Group. Zuckerberg says he is sensitive to the issue and that it is almost “cannibalistic” as they would gobble up other revenue sources.
Even though Zuckerberg is one of the founders of Internet.org, he feels like it is the carriers who should take the forefront as they have laid the solid foundation for its effectiveness in connecting the people in the world.
He continues to believe that such endeavors would prove more beneficial than sci-fi ideas.