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Facebook chief unveils plans to improve global Internet access

Aug. 21, 2013 at 5:21 PM   |   Comments

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MENLO PARK, Calif., Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says his company will team up with six others to help bring Internet access to more than 4 billion people still without it.

Zuckerberg said the group, called Internet.org, would attempt to aid emerging economies by increasing Web access, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

"There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy," Zuckerberg said in a statement. "Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making Internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it."

Facebook has already invested nearly $1 billion on infrastructure toward the goal of broader Internet access in the developing world, he said, and plans to spend more.

Only 2.7 billion people -- slightly more than one-third of the world's population -- currently have access to the Internet, Zuckerberg said, and adoption is growing by less than 9 percent annually.

The Internet.org consortium will work to expand connectivity in cooperation with mobile operators, governments, academics and other non-governmental organizations, he said.

"I'm focused on this because I believe it is one of the greatest challenges of our generation," Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook profile.

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