Facebook Founder Addresses Telcos
After appearing on stage for Samsung to talk about virtual reality, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg took the stage once again to deliver a keynote address (interview style) at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The 45-minute interview covered a lot of topics but if there was one moment that he got the crowd excited enough for a round of applause, it was when he talked about what telcos were not doing properly — getting the unconnected, connected.
Zuckerberg shared that telcos shouldn’t just be focusing on selling more services like 5G to existing Internet customers. He stressed that telco companies around the world “should finish the job” in getting the rest of the world connected. He then went on to explain that Facebook is there to support initiatives like those and he cited several programs under Internet.Org that focuses on increasing Internet penetration.
According to the Facebook Founder and CEO, one of their most successful programs to get more people online was their “Facebook Free Basics” program. This is what’s commonly known as Free FB here in the Philippines. The program apparently has gotten over 19 million new Internet users from around the world (probably a fourth of that coming from the Philippines, lol).
Apart from Free Basics, he also shared the WiFi Express program in India. In partnership with local telcos, Facebook is selling boxes at cost to small businesses so they can provide and offer WiFi connections to their customers. He also has more radical programs like the solar-powered airplane that they built which beams down Internet connectivity.
Hopefully telcos will respond to his challenge and we’ll see more aggressive efforts even from local players such as Smart and Globe to get more Filipinos online in the next few years. Here in the Philippines it’s undeniable that Free FB had a great run and was effective in getting more Pinoys connected. However the big question now is what’s next?
If you guys have suggestions or ideas on what telcos can do to get more people connected, feel free to share them in the comments section below. 🙂