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Facebook, GSMA to tackle connectivity in developing markets

The telecoms industry continued its courtship of internet services firms at Barcelona this week, where industry association the GSMA unveiled a joint initiative with Facebook.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg delivered a keynote speech on the opening day of Mobile World Congress and announced a GSMA-backed initiative to improve connectivity in developing regions. The collaboration will operate via Facebook’s Internet.org initiative and will focus on reducing the total cost of ownership of mobile.

The activities undertaken by the GSMA and Facebook will entail working with governments in developing markets to address key factors that have an impact on affordability and availability. The partnership will focus on creating a sustainable environment to incentivise mobile infrastructure investment and usage, as well as eliminating or reducing existing mobile-specific taxation or refraining from imposing new such tax regimes, the companies said.

Findings of a recent Facebook report suggest that if developing countries could bridge the gap in Internet penetration to reach levels that developed economies enjoy today, they would experience large increases in GDP growth and productivity and improvements in health conditions and education opportunities, providing a clear potential to reduce poverty and promote long-term economic and social development.

“While there are nearly 7 billion mobile connections worldwide, there are only 3.4 billion people that currently have mobile phones,” said Tom Phillips, chief regulatory officer, GSMA. “Mobile will offer many around the world, particularly in emerging markets, their only access to the Internet and the information and communications services it enables.”

Facebook launched the Internet.org initiative last year as a contribution to addressing the challenge of ensuring everyone has affordable access to the internet, said Elliot Schrage, VP communications and Public Policy, Facebook. “Mobile operators are key to meeting this challenge and we are pleased to be able to work with GSMA on making sure that mobile Internet can be delivered in a sustainable and affordable way.”

  • GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

  • Mobile World Congress


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