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Zuckerberg: Let's make the Internet 100x more affordable

Working with his Internet.org partners, Facebook's CEO outlines what needs to be done to drop the cost of Web access worldwide.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking in an Internet.org video.
Screengrab by Dara Kerr/CNET

Two-thirds of the world's population doesn't have access to the Internet, and this is something Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a coalition of tech companies want to change. Their goal: Bring the Internet to every single person on Earth.

While the partnership between the companies, dubbed Internet.org, was announced last month, Zuckerberg released a video on Monday explaining how the coalition aims to bring the Web to nearly 5 billion new people.

"Our plan is to make basic Internet services affordable so that everyone with a phone can join the knowledge economy," Zuckerberg said. "In order for this to be economically feasible we need to make the Internet 100 times more affordable."

To bring down the price of Internet service, Zuckerberg suggested a combination of lowering the costs associated with infrastructure and the amount of data used.

To cut infrastructure costs, he said, cell phone towers need to be upgraded so signals can travel further, spectrum needs to be used more efficiently, and smartphone hardware prices need to be lowered. For data, he said that apps should cache data instead of request it and that compression algorithms should be used.

The Internet.org coalition partners include Facebook and a number of mostly mobile tech companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung. At its launch, this group said it plans to bring Web access to the unconnected world by focusing on a small number of goals, such as affordability, efficient data use, and backing new business models.

A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project released last week looked at the 15 percent of people in the US who still don't go online. According to the study, one of the contributing factors that limits people's access to the Internet is affordability.

"When I was getting started with Facebook, I could build it because I had access to the Internet and a few basic tools that gave me what I needed to build it for the world," Zuckerberg said in the video. "If we can get to a point where everyone around the world has access to those same tools, then everyone is going to be able to benefit from the innovation and ideas and hard work of billions of people around the world."