1. Zuckerberg goes on charm offensive for Internet.org

Zuckerberg goes on charm offensive for Internet.org

In front of a packed audience here, Mark Zuckerberg turned on the charm.

By: | Barcelona | Published: March 4, 2015 12:33 AM

In front of a packed audience here, Mark Zuckerberg turned on the charm.

The Facebook chief executive outlined on Monday why he thought Internet.org, a service backed by his company that is intended to provide people in emerging markets with free access to some online applications, would help telecommunications carriers persuade customers to spend more on streaming content to their cellphones.

The service, which is now offered in countries including Paraguay and Zambia, allows individuals to access Facebook and a limited number of other applications free. Carriers hope that this access — often the first time that people have surfed the web — will lead them to spend money on separate data packages.

‘‘Growing the internet is expensive work,’’ Zuckerberg, dressed in jeans and a grey T-shirt, told an audience at the Mobile World Congress, an industry conference that has become an annual global event where telecom operators talk shop. ‘‘The only way to accelerate that is to help operators to grow their business.’’

Zuckerberg’s words are part of efforts to quell growing disquiet among some carriers, particularly in Western countries, who say that Facebook, Google and other internet companies are taking unfair advantage of carriers’ mobile networks.

Industry executives say that these internet services, which are used by billions of individuals each day, do not invest in the costly infrastructure required so that people can access applications on their smartphones. Some also say that the likes of Facebook, which now holds a strong position in internet messaging after buying WhatsApp last year for $19 billion, do not face the same tough regulations as traditional operators.

‘‘We want a level playing field,’’ Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s chief executive, said in Barcelona on Monday.

‘‘Facebook now has become one of the biggest internet messaging companies in the world.’’ Zuckerberg tried to assuage these concerns, saying that Facebook helped drive extra revenue to carriers because people were willing to pay extra to access online services.

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