(PALO ALTO, Calif.) — It’s not just owning a smartphone that’s expensive — it’s the data plan.
Facebook introduced an app Thursday that will give mobile users in Zambia free, limited access to the Internet.
The app is part of Facebook’s collaborative Internet.org initiative, which aims to bring Internet access to the two out of three people worldwide who aren’t already online.
Users in the African nation, who are Airtel subscribers, will get free mobile access to a slew of basic services, including AccuWeather, Google, Wikipedia, and of course, Facebook, without incurring any data charges.
“We hope to bring more people online and help them discover valuable services they might not have otherwise,” the Facebook announcement said.
According to the social network, 85 percent of the world’s population lives in areas with existing cellular coverage, meaning the lack of infrastructure isn’t a barrier to getting new users online.
At the Mobile World Conference this past February, Zuckerberg said the biggest barrier to getting people online is “the question of why you would want to spend your money.”
“You have never had access to the Internet so you don’t even know why you would want it,” he said. ”In the U.S. we have 911 to get basic services. Similarly, we want to create a basic dial tone for the Internet. Basic messaging, basic Web information, basic social networking.”
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