Zuckerberg: Committed to expanding Internet access

Facebook's efforts to boost global Internet connectivity will continue despite a recent setback in the key Indian market, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday.

"Facebook isn't a company that hits a roadblock and gives up," he said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. "We take the hits that we get and try to learn from them and just do better."

Zuckerberg outlined the progress of the Internet.org initiative, through which he hopes to expand Internet to billions of people who lack access. Free Basics, a key package that offers only select services including Facebook, operates in 38 countries and has brought access to about 19 million people, Zuckerberg said.

Regulators in the world's second-most populous country banned the service this month in a blow to Facebook. Free Basics has taken criticism for its potential to block out smaller content providers and start-ups who do not participate.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Brad Quick | CNBC
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Zuckerberg said the ruling has not deterred Facebook, which has begun to realize that "models that have worked in one country may not work in another." Facebook is continuing its efforts to expand access, including testing on solar-powered Internet drones and a satellite over Africa.

Facebook, of course, has a vested interest in more people coming online. The platform reported that it had 1.59 billion monthly active users at the end of the fourth quarter, with 1.44 billion of those on mobile.

That user growth has helped to boost ad sales, which ballooned to $5.64 billion in the quarter. About 80 percent of the haul came from mobile.

Zuckerberg argued that Facebook is "not really focused on making money" by bringing more people online. He noted that apps in the Basic Services package do not have advertisements.

"Our goal to the extent that there's any business goal at all is to help people get on the Internet," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook took another step toward those goals on Sunday when it unveiled the Telecom Infra Project, by which it will open source data infrastructure designs and projects to mobile operators and other partners.

Zuckerberg also touted the drone initiative for markets in which building land-based infrastructure may prove difficult. The solar-powered aircraft, which Zuckerberg said are about as wide as a Boeing 747 but lighter, can fly for three to six months and beam Internet to the surface.

Zuckerberg said Facebook would run full-scale trials with the drones later this year.

CNBC's Everett Rosenfeld and The Associated Press contributed to this report.