Invention Of The Week? New Cell Phone App Brings Internet To Developing Countries

If you were watching TV or surfing the internet this week, chances are that  you have probably seen the launch of a new innovative cell phone app that will make the internet far more accessible than ever before for those living in developing countries.

Called Internet.org, the app – innovative and cutting-edge on every level - will allow people to browse a variety of useful health, employment and local news and information services in their area. And they also have free access to Google and Facebook too.

Photo provided by Internet.org/2015: Called Internet.org, the app – innovative and cutting-edge on every level - will allow people to browse a variety of useful health, employment and local news and information services in their area.Photo provided by Internet.org/2015: Called Internet.org, the app – innovative and cutting-edge on every level - will allow people to browse a variety of useful health, employment and local news and information services in their area.

It’s a fact that over 85 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas that have cellular coverage, but surprisingly only about 30 per cent of the total population has actual access to the internet. In some countries there are literally thousands upon thousands of people who have never even used the internet in their life. For those in developing countries the only way of sharing information is through texting or making cell-phone calls.

The good news is that people in the developing world will not have to pay to seek out information of sorts via the internet. That’s right Internet.org will now provide free basic services in markets where access to the internet may be less affordable.

This unique app has been developed by Facebook and just this week launched in India. The app also just launched this month in Ghana, Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania and Indonesia.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO, and brainchild behind Facebook, is the one who spearheaded the invention of Internet.org.

“Connecting the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our time,” says Zuckerberg.

“When people have access to the internet, they can not only connect with their friends, family and communities, but they can also gain access to the tools and information to help find jobs, start businesses, access healthcare, education and financial services, and have a greater say in their societies. They get to participate in the knowledge economy.”

The 31 year-old indicates that building a strong knowledge economy is the best solution in fixing a variety of social and economic problems that exist around the globe.

“Expanding internet access could create another 140 million new jobs, lift 160 million people out of poverty, and reduce child mortality by hundreds of thousands of lives. Connectivity isn’t an end in itself, but it’s a powerful tool for change,” he states on the company’s website.

He adds, “However, there are significant obstacles to building the knowledge economy, and the internet is growing very slowly. Today, only around 2.7 billion people have access to the internet — just a little more than a third of the world’s population. That number is only growing by about 9% every year. If we want to connect the world, we have to accelerate that growth. That’s our goal with Internet.org.”

Sure, there are plenty of networking and infrastructure challenges in order to deliver the app in developing countries; however the company continues to develop new technological and infrastructure solutions in making the app a reality for the less fortunate.

Photo provided by Internet.org/2015: Making the Internet More AffordablePhoto provided by Internet.org/2015: Making the Internet More Affordable

Through the company’s Connectivity Lab, the app is being delivered through the deployment of signals from satellites and drones. A large number of cellular carriers in developing countries are also working with Connectivity Lab to make basic internet services available through new wireless technology, making it faster and more accessible.

During his speech at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this week (March 2), Zuckerberg downplayed Facebook’s role in the creation of Internet.org.

“While it’s sexy to talk about [Internet.org’s Internet-beaming] satellites, the real work happens here, by the companies. It’s really important not to lose sight of the fact that people driving this are the operators… Too often Internet.org is conflated with Facebook,” he says.

This new app – a truly unique invention in its own right – will increase the sale of smartphones globally; while at the same time may also bring the demise of voice and texting services. After all, users in developing countries may use Facebook Messenger or the new Whatsapp as a means to communicate for free as well.