It's hard to imagine life without the internet. Today, we use it for everything from shopping to banking and learning. According to the United Nations International Telecommunications Union, 3 billion people – or 40 percent of the world's population – will be using the internet by the end of this year, with two thirds of those users coming from the developing world.
But what about those who still aren't connected? In many parts of the developing world, people have little or no access to the internet and are living in a state of what can be called "digital darkness".
Internet.org is an alliance of major technology and communications companies including Facebook, Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson, looking to change that. The organization's goal is to make the internet available – and affordable – to the whole world.
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"Ninety percent of people in the world already live in areas that are covered with wireless signal," Javier Olivan, Vice-President of Growth and Analytics at Facebook, told Episode 9 of CNBC's Industrial Revolutions.
"Our approach is partnering with the existing industry so we can improve the business models that will enable getting those people online much faster," he added.
The stakes are high. According to research from Deloitte, if countries in the developing world had the same levels of internet access as those in the developed world, 160 million people could be lifted out of poverty, over 140 million new jobs could be created and $2.2 trillion in additional GDP could be generated.
"It's a task that's bigger than what one company can achieve on its own," Chris Weasler, Director of Global Connectivity at Facebook, told Industrial Revolutions. "So we're defining and we're planning and we're launching products with partners."
Internet.org's projects include exploring the possibility of delivering internet access using drones, satellites and lasers, an Innovation Lab at Facebook's Menlo Park HQ and online education initiative SocialEDU.
SocialEDU is a collaboration between the government of Rwanda; telecommunications company Airtel; edX, an online education provider; Facebook and Nokia.
They have developed a pilot program that will give Rwandan students free access to, "high-quality, localized educational content via low cost smartphones." Study material on SocialEDU will come from some of the world's leading universities, including Harvard and MIT.
Internet.org's goals are ambitious, but the organization is already having an impact. In Paraguay and the Philippines, an estimated three million people have gained access to the internet through Internet.org partnerships.
"There's no reason to believe that the next Facebook wouldn't be born out of a village in Myanmar or a town in Ghana," Weasler said.