Facebook, Airtel to Offer Free Access to Basic Internet Service in Zambia




Facebook-backed Internet.org is announcing on Thursday that it is launching a new Android app in Zambia that will offer some basic services to Airtel customers without incurring any data charges.



The new app includes access to Facebook, Accuweather and Wikipedia as well as local news, health information and employment services.

“Over 85 percent of the world’s population lives in areas with existing cellular coverage, yet only about 30 percent of the total population accesses the internet,” Internet.org product management director Guy Rosen said in a statement. “Affordability and awareness are significant barriers to internet adoption for many and today we are introducing the Internet.org app to make the internet accessible to more people by providing a set of free basic services.”

Rosen said that although the service is initially limited to Airtel users in Zambia, the goal is to bring it to other parts of the world.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first outlined the company’s goals with Internet.org last year. It also has an effort, Facebook Zero, that dates back even further and brings free Facebook access to customers in a number of emerging markets.