Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as we reported, is on a two-day visit to India, and today spoke at the first summit for Internet.org in Delhi. This is essentially an initiative led by Facebook, which aims at bringing Internet access to all corners of the world. Zuckerberg touched upon Internet penetration in developing countries, including India, and how he planned on increasing it with something called 911 for the Internet, NDTVGadgets reports. Also Read - Facebook smartwatch to feature cameras alongside fitness functions: Yes, detachable cameras!Also Read - What happens to your Facebook account after you die?
In the US, you can always dial 911 even if you don’t have a phone plan, the way you dial 100 here [in India],” Zuckerberg said. There needs to be a 911 for the Internet. We’ve been working with operators to offer free basic Internet for everyone, to break down the social barriers. With this model, we’ve already helped people connect 3 million people. Also Read - WhatsApp Multi-device support confirmed, public beta rollout begins in two months: Mark Zuckerberg
The Facebook CEO talked about how only 248 million people in India were connected to the Internet, of which 100 million are connected to Facebook. The Internet.org however aims to increase this penetration and bring the other more than a billion people online.
He also talked about how it wasn t just the lack of infrastructure that was stopping the growth of Internet users in India, but it was also about social and language barriers. He highlighted the latter saying how more than 80 percent of content on the Internet are in just 10 languages, while there are 22 official languages in India alone. Seemingly wanting to take advantage of this untapped potential, Zuckerberg announced a $1 billion funding to encourage people to develop apps and services in local languages to help farmers, women and students.
The next generation has the opportunity to define the future and the key to this is going to be embracing the Internet,” he said. We have a long way to go to get there because only one-third of people have access to the Internet at all.
As mentioned above, Internet.org is an initiative Zuckerberg launched last year. Led by Facebook, the initiative aims at bringing Internet access to more than two-thirds of the world, which is not yet online. In India, he is working towards making Internet access more affordable in partnership with cellular operators, and Facebook also recently joined COAI, a body of cellular operators in the country.
Zuckerberg is the second Facebook executive to visit India, after Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg visited the county earlier this year. He is also expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.