Facebook finally rolls out Internet.org, bringing free Internet to Africa

Facebook has finally release its much-anticipated Internet.org programme, designed to increase connectivity and access to online resources in the developing world.

The programme is being rolled out initially in the form of an app available to Airtel subscribers in Zambia, although the social networking giant plans to expand the programme in due course.

The app allows users to browse a set of useful health, employment, communication, and local information websites completely free, without any data charges.

Related: Is Mark Zuckerberg changing telecoms as we know it?

Sites available through the Internet.org app include AccuWeather, Google Search, Go Zambia Jobs, Wikipedia, and, of course, Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg announced the start of the programme with a post on his Facebook page.

"Today, I'm excited to announce the launch of the Internet.org app in Zambia. This provides people in Zambia with free data access to basic internet services like the ones I mentioned above, and means Zambia will now be the first country where we've been able to provide a whole set of free basic services."

"Right now, only 15% of people in Zambia have access to the internet. Soon, everyone will be able to use the internet for free to find jobs, get help with reproductive health and other aspects of health, and use tools like Facebook to stay connected with the people they love."

Facebook released a 70-page whitepaper last year, detailing exactly how it plans to help connect the globe to the web. Written in partnership with Qualcomm and Ericsson, the paper highlights how Facebook is working to connect more than a billion users while using less data and power.

There were also plans to use a fleet of orbital drones to improve connectivity around the globe, but those plans were put to rest when Google snapped up the prospective drone supplier, Titan Aerospace, for an undisclosed sum.

For more, check out the Internet.org introduction video below.

Read more: A closer look at Facebook's Internet.org alliance