There appears to be one crucial new element in the new Facebook-driven partnership aimed at bringing affordable Internet access to parts of the world that simply can't afford to spend tens or hundreds of dollars a month to get online.
The newly announced Internet.Org group, which counts Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Facebook , MediaTek Inc. (Taiwan: 2454), and Samsung Corp. among its members, says it wants to get the 5 billion people in the world not currently online connected. (See Facebook Et Al Aim to Bridge Digital Divide.)
To that end, the group rightfully focuses on mobile devices as the major conduit for most of the rest of the world's population to get to the Internet. The new wrinkle, however, is pushing the development of applications, devices, and infrastructure that uses less -- not more -- wireless data.
The project says this in its introductory release:
Partners will invest in tools that dramatically reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and Internet experiences. Potential projects include developing data compression tools, enhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data, building systems to cache data efficiently, and creating frameworks for apps to reduce data usage.
In other words, creating applications and devices that graze data, reduce signaling loads, and give the best connection possible without blowing through a user's limited budget. Quite a different philosophy from many of the data capped, bandwidth blowout apps, and plans found in the US and beyond.
It's early days for Internet.Org yet but the interest in data efficiency is worth keeping an eye on. Who knows, it might even trickle back to more established 4G networks in the end.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading