Facebook‘s Internet.org initiative is mapping a slow but certain path to growth. The company recently revealed its performance in the third quarter of 2016 and according to the data presented at the earnings call, Internet.org is now being used by over 40 million people worldwide.
This is significant growth compared to last year, when the initiative had merely 15 million users. Now though, almost .5 percent of the world’s population use the services provided by Internet.org in one way or the other.
Internet.org is basically a collaboration between Facebook and a bunch of other companies including Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm. The group seeks to bring access to selective Internet services to less developed countries at affordable rates. It has been going about it in a variety of ways, including by providing assistance to locals interested in creating business models that have to do with providing Internet access to others around them.
The initiative also attempts to tie up with local telecom providers and then provide free access to selective Internet services to consumers on that particular network. This model has been facing a fair amount of criticism from various quarters for being selective, giving preferential treatment to certain websites and companies and otherwise violating net neutrality.
In case Internet.org does not ring any bells, Free Basics might — which is Facebook’s name for the app which actually delivers these services. This is also the name under which Facebook sought to launch the program in India a while ago. However, it had to retreat in face of stiff resistance from domestic telecom providers, and after Indian regulatory bodies gave it a strict no-no.
Facebook is still attempting to gain a foothold in India, although its going about it in a rather roundabout manner now. Speaking on the topic at the earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said,
We’re making good progress with our Express Wifi program, which empowers entrepreneurs to build a business by providing their community with access to the Internet.
You can read more about Facebook’s Q3 earnings call, right here.