Internet.org, the Facebook-led internet initiative that aims to bring web access to the disadvantaged population of the world, has launched an Android and web app today in Zambia that gives users free access to the reduced versions of some mobile services.
The program which is carried out in cooperation with Zambian mobile operator Airtel, will eventually be expanded to other developing countries and regions.
The mobile services offered with the aim to promote the goodies of the internet and boost the usage, include the slimmed-down versions of Facebook, Messenger, Wikipedia, Google Search and some local health, employment, weather and women’s rights sources. Guy Rosen, the product management director for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, said the app will be available in additional countries over the coming months and years.
According to the program, Airtel will be offering the services free of charge its the customers, and will not charge Facebook either. It is planning to capitalize mainly on the members who eventually decide to pay for more on the internet and buy a data plan.
Facebook partners with six global telecom giants and over 150 wireless operators under the program that gives free (or discounted) access to Facebook and Facebook Zero apps. The Internet.org project, on the other hand, expands the coverage adding several mobile services to the scheme with the final goal of “connecting the next 5 billion users”. Facebook and Google have plans also to deploy drones and satellites to deliver internet to poorest parts of the world.
The list of apps available on Internet.org app are AccuWeather, Airtel, eZeLibrary, Facebook, Facts for Life, Google Search, Go Zambia Jobs, Kokoliko, MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action), Messenger, Wikipedia, WRAPP (Women’s Rights App), Zambia uReport.