Zuckerberg to create ‘on ramp’ infrastructure for internet

 Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg arrives at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. Picture: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg attracted a bumper crowd at his keynote address at yesterday’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Delegates at the congress began queuing three-and-a-half hours before his six o’clock address in the evening, while those unfortunate not to get into the auditorium watched from a live stream in four surrounding auditoriums or on TV screens peppered around the purpose-built conference centre.

Zuckerberg spoke for 45 minutes in a question-and-answer session with David Kirkpatrick, the author of a book on Facebook. Kirkpatrick said he first met Zuckerberg in 2009, when the Facebook founder was 26.

“There was a representation of Mark in a movie of a guy who was anxious and aggressive. That has not been my impression from dealing with him. It is his sincerity and earnestness that have impressed me,” said Kirkpatrick.

Zuckerberg was in Barcelona to outline his vision for connecting everybody in the world to the internet, with a particular eye on untapped regions of the developing world.

“It’s only about a third of the people in the world who are connected to the internet and it’s only growing slowly. We want to show people why it’s rational and good to spend their $1 or $2 of disposable income on getting internet access.

“Our goal is to create an ‘on ramp’ infrastructure for the internet. There is a set of basic services, which everybody should have for free — like messaging, knowing the weather forecast, food prices, social networking and search. Most of these services are all text-based, low bandwidth and cheap to serve. We’re looking to add three to five partnerships to help build this ‘on ramp’ to the internet.”

When asked about Facebook’s $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, the free messaging service, last week, Zuckerberg said it was “a perfect fit,” and one of the partnerships Facebook needs for its internet expansion plans, which is part of an umbrella project he calls internet.org.

When Zuckerberg was asked where Facebook and its partners would make money from his internet.org vision, he said it would come from the portals to other sites where users have to pay for content.


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