Was Internet.Org Really About Serving The Bottom Of The Pyramid Or Facebook Trying To Expand Its Reach?
PC1-2 PART 1 COMPREHENSIVE CASES
Internet connectivity. Only a third of the world population, around 2.7 billion people, were connected.
Even though more than 85 percent of the global population lived under cellular companies’ coverage area, only 30 percent were accessing the Internet. To increase affordability and aware- ness, the key challenges for Internet adoption, Internet.org intro- duced the Internet.org app, which gave free basic services to the users. Through this application, people could access information regarding health, employment, and local news. This was made available initially in Zambia through Bharti Airtel and extended to other parts of the world as well7 (see Exhibit II).
In the Philippines, where the Internet.org initiative was adopted in collaboration with the mobile operator Globe, prom- ising results were seen. More people got free access to apps, and through loans, they registered for its various data plans. Within a few months of starting this initiative, the mobile user subscriber base on Globe network increased by 25 percent. In Paraguay, in collaboration with TIGO,8 this initiative increased the user base by 50 percent. Nearly 3 million people had access to the Internet, and their daily data usage increased by 50 percent.9
Also, in Indonesia, Internet.org improved the country’s net- work and enhanced its app performance, thereby closing the connectivity gap.10 Tanzania also joined this initiative in October 2014.11 In Kenya, along with Airtel, Internet.org started offering
Internet access to the two thirds of global population who do not have net connectivity.5 The partners were working toward exploring solutions in areas of affordability, efficiency, and business models by sharing their tools and resources and by adopting best practices. Internet.org had also planned to invest in tools and software to transmit data efficiently by compress- ing the data. Through innovative business models, Internet .org would work with developers, device manufacturers, and mobile operators to bring more people online.6
Apart from Facebook, the other founding partners of Internet.org had believed in the power of a connected world and had come together to achieve the lofty goal of making the Internet available to everyone on Earth (see Exhibit I).
A study by Deloitte revealed that Internet connectivity was a major driver for economic growth in developing countries. It would become a powerful tool of social change capable of creating nearly 140 million jobs and uplifting 160 million from absolute poverty besides providing critical information for leading a healthy life. But the major challenge encountered in becoming a knowledge economy was the slow growth of
7Guy Rosen, “Introducing the Internet.org App,” https://Internet.org/press/ introducing-the-Internet-dot-org-app, July 31, 2014. 8Tigo is the first cellular network in Tanzania. It started operations in 1994 and is Tanzania’s most affordable and innovative mobile phone operator. 9“Connecting the World from the Sky,” https://fbcdn-dragon-a.akamaihd.net/ hphotos-ak-ash3/t39.2365-6/851574_611544752265540_1262758947_n.pdf. 10“Improving App and Network Performance in Indonesia,” http://www .Internet.org/press/improving-app-and-network-performance-in-indonesia, October 12, 2014. 11“Internet.org App Launches in Tanzania,” https://Internet.org/press/Internet- dot-org-app-launches-in-tanzania, October 29, 2014.
Ericsson – Ericsson is a world-leading pro- vider of communications technol- ogy and services.
MediaTek – MediaTek Inc. is a leading fabless semiconductor company for wire- less communications and digital multimedia solutions.
Opera Software – Opera products enable more than 350 million Internet consumers to discover and connect with the con- tent and services that matter most to them.
Samsung – Samsung is a global leader in tech- nology, opening new possibilities for people everywhere through re- lentless innovation and discovery.
Facebook – Facebook’s mission is to give peo- ple the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
Nokia – Nokia is a global leader in mobile communications whose products have become an integral part of the lives of people around the world.
Qualcomm – Qualcomm is a world leader in 3G, 4G, and next-generation wireless technologies.
Source: “About—Internet.org,” https://Internet.org/about.