Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to win over executives from the telecom industry while speaking at the world’s biggest annual gathering of the mobile industry, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Zuckerberg made efforts to get their backing for working toward connecting the billions of people with no internet access.
Facebook (FB) CEO’s efforts lauded
“It’s really important to not lose sight of the fact that the ones that are driving this are the operators,” said Zuckerberg.
The world’s largest social networking company’s efforts to attract more carriers may be working. Bharti Airtel (an Asian telecom) and Telenor (an African company) said they are analyzing whether or not to join the effort.
Jon Fredrik Baksaas, chief executive officer of Norway’s Telenor and head of the global trade association of operators, suggested that they are still considering options with Internet.org but are concerned about Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) impact on the industry. Noting the change seen in the social network’s approach in recent years, the executive said, “I look at Facebook as being more conscientious about operator concerns.”
Zuckerberg was joined by several executives in the second half of the discussion. Mario Zanotti, senior executive vice president of the Latin American business for the telecom operator Millicom, said Internet.org is performing well in Columbia and is displaying very impressive numbers.
Will the rivalry between internet and telecoms end?
It was a change from last year when Zuckerberg surprised the audience by acquiring free communication service WhatsApp for $19.2 billion. WhatsApp is one such app that has given sleepless nights to traditional telecoms which face a loss of profits from phone calls and texts due to the internet.
The Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO’s comments come at a time when the telecom industry is increasingly complaining about Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google that offer web services and are eating away the big investments made in mobile and fixed line networks by the telecom operators, says a report from Reuters. Regulators in the United States and Europe are promoting measures such as open internet rules to create a balance between the two industries.
Two years ago, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), along with the mobile equipment industry-formed Internet.Org, revealed their objective to make basic internet service available to approximately two-thirds of the world’s population who are not yet connected.