In 2014 during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a plan aimed at providing internet access to two-thirds of the world not yet connected. This then led to the launch of Internet.org, a partnership between Facebook, industry giants such as Nokia, Qualcomm and telecom carriers, to use solar-powered drones and spacecraft to beam the internet to the developing world. Internet.org provides basic web services such as weather reports, Wikipedia, messaging and Facebook to users at no cost and now reaches 1 billion people around the world.
Since then, Internet.org has grown in scale and projects and now includes Free basics; open cellular; project Aquila and express wifi. Free basics, that allows users to access basic web services such as weather reports, Wikipedia, Facebook at no cost. The grand scheme of things is to have these users enjoy these basic services which would, in turn, inspire them to explore the rest of the web. project Aquila uses solar powered planes the size of Boeing 737 to beam the internet to remote parts of the world without it. These planes can be on air for 3-6 months which makes them beneficial.
Express wifi which recently launched in India and Nigeria, where Facebook partners with internet service providers to offer cheap internet in different places. With open cellular, Facebook is looking to create an open source, “wireless access platform” designed to drive down the cost of setting up cellular networks in places where it has been expensive to achieve the same. This would dramatically lower the cost of infrastructure necessary to roll-out such services making it possible for others to access the internet.
In its recently released Q3 earnings, Facebook announced that internet.org had connected 40 million people to the internet since launch, which represents 0.5% of the world population. Facebook further said that the project had been responsible for the growth of active users on the social media platform. The growth of interenet.org beneficiaries to 40 million represents a 15 million user growth from 25 Million in may last year. In the first year of launch, internet.org projects connected 3 million users with the number growing 15 million in 2015. In Kenya, Facebook partnered with Airtel allowing for millions of users to access the internet.