GSMA and Facebook to connect the unconnected

GSMAGSMA and Facebook have announced a joint initiative to connect billions of men and women globally who currently have no access to Internet-based communications services. The initiative will focus on reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of mobile, given that mobile will be the enabling technology for the vast majority of people in developing markets.

The activities undertaken by 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.

Together, GSMA and Facebook will address a range of other issues that will improve affordability and help to connect the world’s population to the Internet, such as maximising the availability of harmonised spectrum to drive mobile broadband adoption; evaluating the establishment of local Internet Exchange Points; fostering the development of local Internet content; and examining the effectiveness of Universal Service Funds.

“While there are nearly seven billion mobile connections worldwide, there are only 3.4 billion people that currently have mobile phones,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer of 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. Connecting the next billion is a major goal of the GSMA and we are pleased to be working with Facebook and internet.org to make this a reality.”

“We launched the Internet.org partnership 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 of 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.”

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