The Facebook-backed nonprofit is bringing free data to parts of Zambia in Southern Africa as a part of a major initiative to connect the Internet with the two-thirds of the world's population who aren't online. is rolling out an app that provides free basic web services to Airtel subscribers in Zambia. The organization said it plans to introduce the app to other parts of the world soon.
The news comes just one month shy of a year since Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched the organization, along with support from other tech companies like Ericcson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Without worrying about data charges, users of the app will be able to access health and employment services, as well as a collection of apps like Wikipedia, Facebook, Messenger, Google Search, WRAPP (Women's Rights App) and AccuWeather.
There's a telling omission from the list, however: other social networks, including Twitter.
"By providing free basic services via the app, we hope to bring more people online and help them discover valuable services they might not have otherwise," Guy Rosen, product management director at Facebook, wrote in an official blog post.
While only 30% of the world's population accesses the Internet, 85% live in regions with cellular coverage. This huge disparity is attributed to affordability and awareness, according to Other projects in the works include developing low-cost quality smartphones to underserved areas.
Most recently, launched a pilot program in Forest City, North Carolina, the same town that is home to one of Facebook's main data centers, to provide students with free web access.
All of this, of course, would also encourage newly-connected web users to sign up for Facebook and ultimately increase the site's user base. There are some downsides too — the organization would be able to control what its app users see and censorship could play a role in the authoritarian markets found in some emerging countries, as Gigaom

Introducing the App from Facebook on Vimeo.