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Firms unite to bring internet to billions of new users

 These were the lofty ideals Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed on 20 August, when he declared his intention to bring internet access to "the next 5 billion people" – that is, the fraction of humanity that currently lacks it.

With tech giants like Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and Qualcomm as partners, Zuckerberg's newly formed consortium looks to have the corporate muscle to achieve such a monumental vision.

But the specifics, at least for the moment, are fuzzy. Zuckerberg's 10-page statement talks of three broad objectives: making apps and other software more data-efficient; devising a way to make building access to the internet a profitable enterprise in its own right; and at the same time making online access affordable for all – which effectively means "free".

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