Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has launched a new global initiative to make getting online more affordable.
Currently 2.7 billion people – just over a third of the world's population – have access to the web, but Internet adoption is growing by less than 9 per cent each year and Zuckerberg hopes his plans will speed up the process of getting a further five billion people online.
The Facebook chief executive is launching internet.org in partnership with other companies including Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia and Qualcomm, which will develop joint projects and share knowledge to bring the world online.
The organisation hopes to emulate the successful Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative that has lowered the costs of cloud computing by making hardware designs more efficient and innovative.
"Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect," Zuckerberg said.
"There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. 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."
The organisation’s three main goals are to make access more affordable, use data more efficiently and help businesses drive access.
Partners will collaborate to develop new technology to drive down the costs of delivering internet access and build lower cost smartphones, as well as investing in tools to reduce the amount of data use apps and internet services such as data compression tools and building systems that cache data efficiently.
They will also support the development of sustainable business models that make it easier for people to access the internet by testing new business models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses.
President and chief executive of Ericsson Hans Vestberg said: "We believe affordable connectivity and internet access improves people's lives and helps build a more sustainable planet and therefore we are excited to participate in the internet.org initiative."
Stephen Elop, president and chief executive of Nokia, said: "Our industry is now at an exciting inflection point where internet connectivity is becoming more affordable and efficient for consumers while still offering them great experiences. Universal internet access will be the next great industrial revolution."