Internet.org will win global connectivity battle without satellites, says Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO and Internet.org founder Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance at Mobile World Congress to discuss bringing internet connectivity to the next four billion people in the world.

His effort - funded in part through more clicks onto Facebook - looks to establish partnerships with local telecom providers. Customers are able to choose a free package through Internet.org, but get limited data access to a few primary websites and services.

Facebook is included in this shortlist of services, alongside local health, employment and information services. Each country has its own shortlist, complete with sites like Wikipedia, offering most of the world’s information.

"Facebook drives the data usage in developing markets," Zuckerberg said. "We use the social network as a driver for data and this needs to be sustainable. It costs tens of billions a year."

At MWC, Zuckerberg also said new methods of low-orbit satellites and ambitious projects like Project Loon by Google are “sexy”, but not as useful as normal partnerships with telecom providers.

Zuckerberg believes convention methods of bringing internet connectivity to places like Colombia, Zambia, Kenya and Ghana will win against the invasion of low-orbit satellite fleets, capable of offering global data access in the next five years.

Google, SpaceX and other companies clearly see low-orbit satellites as a smarter move in the long-term, considering the low-cost for satellite data compared to Internet.org’s current business model of simply paying off the telecom to partner.