Skip to main content reaches over a billion people in 12 months

Mark Zuckerberg's (opens in new tab) has come in for quite a lot of criticism (opens in new tab) since it launched. Designed to help get the entire world online, it has been argued that the program is in opposition to the idea of net neutrality (opens in new tab) and many of its backers have pulled out or complained about things since it kicked off.

But in many regards none of this matters - it is the numbers that are important. Twelve months after the launch of, more than a billion people have been connected to the internet free of charge. Moving into year two, the next part of the operation involves scaling things up.

Connecting the unconnected remains at the heart of going forward. The aim is now to get more partners involved and have more operators on board - this was the reason for launching the Platform earlier in the year. has already spread into 17 countries, but there are many, many more to tick off the list.

Writing on Facebook, the team says (opens in new tab): brings new users onto mobile networks on average over 50 per cent faster after launching free basic services, and more than half of the people who come online through are paying for data and accessing the internet within the first 30 days. These points show that is not only a successful tool in helping bring people online, but it is successful in showing people the value of the internet and helping to accelerate its adoption.

But how ever many people the program gets online, no matter now altruistic the intention may be, it's hard to imagine that won't continue to find itself coming under fire from various quarters.

Photo credit: dolphfyn (opens in new tab) / Shutterstock (opens in new tab)