BARCELONA: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claims social networking is a service everyone should have access to and argues it should be the Web equivalent of 911 in the case of an emergency.
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Zuckerberg claimed services including messaging, weather updates, Wikipedia, basic search, and basic social networking require “incredibly low bandwidth.” Because they are all “text-based and cheap to serve,” offering them for free is “a reasonable business proposition,” he said.
Zuckerberg added that “access to the Internet is actually growing way slower than you imagine” and was being stifled by data costs rather than the price of smartphones.
He argued that efforts such as Google's Project Loon balloon initiative were not the best solution to connect more of the globe to the Internet because more than 80% of the world lives somewhere with 2G or 3G Internet access.
During his talk to a roomful of mobile executives, Zuckerberg asked for assistance from telecommunications firms to deliver cheap mobile data to emerging markets.
“We are really not on a path to connect everyone unless something dramatic changes,” he said, adding that the strength of the Facebook and Whatsapp brands will encourage people to spend a “dollar or two” on Internet access.
Facebook acquired messaging service Whatsapp a week ago for $19 billion, with Zuckerberg claiming the company was undervalued even when excluding its strategic importance to Facebook.
Earlier in the day, Whatsapp founder Jan Koum said during a keynote at the Mobile World Congress that the company would add voice functionality to the app.
Zuckerberg was also speaking in his capacity as founder of Internet.org, an organization that seeks to connect the world's population to the Internet, a project he conceded would not pay off anytime soon.
“Although I think we are going to lose money on this for quite a while, the reason I'm optimistic is just like social networking early on, I believed it was this important thing,” he said.
When asked about revelations of NSA surveillance, Zuckerberg conceded they had been damaging for US tech companies because “trust is such an important thing especially for any service where you are going to share personal information.”
This story originally appeared on the website of Marketing.