Internet.org, the global initiative that aims to expand access to the Internet, has been launched in the Philippines. This was announced by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on his official fan page Thursday morning (Philippine time).
“We’re one step closer to connecting the world as we launched Internet.org in the Philippines today. Now everyone in the country can have free access to internet services for health, education, jobs and communication on the Smart network,” Zuckerberg said.
The Facebook CEO also attached a photo of a man named Jaime, a tricycle driver from Manila who he says uses Facebook and the Internet “to stay in touch with loved ones who moved to Dubai,” presumably for employment purposes.
On its website, it is stated that Internet.org’s main goal is “to connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have Internet access,” with the bulk of this population concentrated in emerging economies in Asia and Africa.
In the Philippines, Facebook has partnered with telecommunications giant PLDT, which controls both Smart Communications and Sun Cellular. This means that only subscribers of those telcos can utilize Internet.org.
This project can be a big help for a country where access to the worldwide web remains difficult in far-flung areas because of the lack in adequate telecommunications infrastructure and the relative expensiveness of acquiring Internet service.
According to InternetLiveStats.com, only around 40% of the estimated 100 million Filipinos have access to Internet. Apart from the concerns mentioned above, Filipino netizens have also long complained about the slow Internet service in the country, which has been described in recent years as among the slowest in the entire world.