Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg launched a free Internet app in Colombia that also gives people access to multiple government services.
The application, known as Internet.org, is part of a global initiative to bring developing markets online, and Colombia is the first nation in Latin America and the fourth in the world to benefit from the service in partnership with local mobile provide Tigo.
The app features other free basic services including access to education, health, communication, jobs, finance and local information, being the first of its kind to include such government services.
Speaking at an event in Bogota, Zuckerberg said that the goal is to make the app available across the world and to help everyone get connected to the Internet.
"We're going to look back a year from now and there will hopefully be a lot more countries that have programs like this."
The mobile app is aimed at low-income users and those living in remote places and gives access to more than a dozen online services via an Android operating system. Apart from including Facebook’s own social network and messaging service, for which users do not have to pay, it has weather websites, job listings and Wikipedia. The app has already been made available in three other countries in Africa.
“Internet.org is a global partnership between technology leaders, non-profits, local communities and experts who are working together to bring the Internet to the two-thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have it,” it says on its website.
Although Zuckerberg kept quiet about where the program might be launched next, he predicted that the app is soon to be the "default" among mobile operators worldwide to expand Internet access.
"[It] will stop being that only the most visionary and forward-leaning operators want to start doing it and it'll start being the case that it's more the default, right, where it's almost like you're not doing it if you're lagging,” he added.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.