NEW DELHI: Stressing on the importance of enhancing internet connectivity in India, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said, “Connectivity can’t be restricted to just the rich and powerful. Cost of internet access has to be made affordable.”
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook is working extensively to enhance connectivity in rural India. “India is an amazing country with unlimited potential. It is a place of big ambitions and Facebook is deeply committed to the country.
We see lot of growth for us here. Tomorrow I’m meeting the Prime Minister. He is committed to connecting villages online and we are excited to see how Facebook can help,” Zuckerberg said.
Pitching for free ‘basic net access’, Zuckerberg called for a ‘911 for Internet’. Zuckerberg, counted among the youngest tech billionaires, said free basic internet access should be like dialing 911 in the US or 100 in India.
Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is creating a $1 million fund to help developers develop apps for farmers, migrants and women. This will be a contest to drive new apps and services in local languages.
“When the benefits of technology are shared across the whole society, that is when we can make the big leap. Because India has embraced science, the next generation has the opportunity to bring the world to India and India to the world,” he added.
He said that the whole world being robbed of creativity and ideas because so many people in India because so many people in India are not online.
Zuckerberg said through Internet.org, the industry aims to make Internet access affordable for people across the globe.
Focused on enabling the next five billion people without Internet access to come online, the founding members of the project include Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung.
The partners are collaborating on developing lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and deploying Internet access in under-served communities.
Stating that Facebook’s mission in the past 10 years has been to make internet accessible, Zuckerberg said, “243 million people in India are on the net. A huge area is unconnected. India has embraced the internet, but has a long way to go.”
Praising India, Zuckerberg credited it for ‘making leaps in revolutions that changed the world’. “Inventions have changed the world throughout history. ‘Mangalyaan’ is a huge achievement for India,” he said
Zuckerberg is of the opinion that lowering data costs by operators is not a sustainable solution. “Mobile operators invest a lot of money, lowering costs is not easy,” he said. “Infrastructure is the biggest barrier to internet, then technical issues. Language barriers are huge impediments to the internet,” he added.
“Connected people have better access to technology, education and jobs. When people are connected accomplishments are easy,” Zuckerberg said. “We want to help build an internet which is affordable for everyone,” he said.
Zuckerberg went on to say that Facebook is working on ‘few basic services’ on the net without a telcom plan. “Local language content is crucial to internet penetration in Asia, India. Facebook is focusing on content in local languages,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook’s billionaire founder Mark Zuckerberg is in India. One of the big engagements on his itinerary will be his meeting with PM Modi, a keen supporter of social medis as a means of reaching out to people.
By ECONOMIC TIMES.
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