„Why form a coalition to spread global connectivity?
The internet is an important foundation in improving the world, but it doesn't build itself. Over the past few years, we've invested more than a billion dollars in connecting people in developing countries. We have a product called Facebook for Every Phone, which provides our service on feature phones; it has 100 million users. But no one company or government can build out a full stack of infrastructure to support this around the world. So you need to work together with folks. Since we've announced internet.org, we've heard from operators around the world and governments who want to work with us. This is going to provide momentum to make this work over the next three to five years, or however long it's going to take.
You say connectivity is a human right -- up there with freedom of expression, freedom from hunger, and other essential rights. Can you explain?
The story of the next century is the transition from an industrial, resource-based economy, to a knowledge economy. An industrial economy is zero sum. If you own an oil field, I cannot go in that same oil field. But knowledge works differently. If you know something, then you can share that -- and then the whole world gets richer. But until that happens, there's a big disparity in wealth. The richest 500 million have way more money than the next six billion combined. You solve that by getting everyone online, and into the knowledge economy -- by building out the global internet. (...)
How do you make data cheaper?
We spent a lot of time trying to make our apps run faster, crash less, and have fewer bugs, but until this year, we didn't spend a huge amount of time on delivering the same experience with less data. It just wasn't important to a lot of the people who use our services in developed countries. But it's critically important to the next few billion. In the beginning of this year, the average person used about 12 megabytes for the Android app on Facebook, and I think over the next couple of years, we're going be able to get that down to one megabyte a day, with very few changes. Since one megabyte is still too much for a lot of the world, the question becomes, Can you get to half a megabyte or a third?
Can you make it so a text-based internet is almost free?
The text in my entire white paper is less than a tenth of a megabyte. But a 30-second video like the one we did for internet.org can easily be 50 to 100 megabytes, and that's taking advantage of a lot of investment made in compression technologies. But the number I gave for the text document doesn't involve compression at all. So there's more opportunity to do compression for the basic services than there are for things like video.”