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Facebook brings free online access to Colombia with launch

Facebook’s app, providing free online access in developing countries, has just launched in Colombia.

The service, which lets users access a number of web-based services such as Wikipedia, health and employment information and Facebook without paying data-charges, had already launched in three African countries.

Read more: Facebook finally rolls out, bringing free Internet to Africa

Colombia is the first Latin American country to receive the service.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he hoped more mobile service operators around the world would begin offering the app.

"Our goal is to make the program available across the world and to help everyone get connected to the Internet," Zuckerberg told Reuters.

"We're going to look back a year from now and there will hopefully be a lot more countries that have programs like this."

The 30-year-old billionaire refused to be drawn on speculation that China is the next target for the service. There have been rumours that a deal to launch in Asia between Zuckerberg and Chinese smartphone firm Xiaomi broke down recently. The Facebook founder did suggest that the next launch could be as soon as six months away.

The Colombia launch, in partnership with domestic mobile phone operator Tigo, will help in the growth of local entrepreneurs and could even help bring an end to a 50-year war with Marxist rebels.

"Just giving people the tools of connectivity is important by itself in creating communication and a tighter social fabric in creating peace," Zuckerberg said.

Read more: Internet access to hit 3 billion worldwide by 2015

With only 30 per cent of the global population possessing Internet access, the programme is certainly praiseworthy. However, it is unlikely that Facebook has entirely altruistic motives at heart. The app also has the potential to grow the social network’s userbase significantly and therefore increase its ad revenue.