Facebook pledges to “poke” spectrum policy makers on behalf of IMT
Mar 02, 2014 by PolicyTracker

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During his keynote address at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), multi-billionaire social networker Mark Zuckerberg underlined the importance of lobbying for spectrum as part of broader efforts to make the internet 1,000 times more affordable.

He told the annual telecoms jamboree that he wanted to “get policy to work to make it so that you can re-use different parts of spectrum, and so that the spectrum and licensing fees that carriers have to pay are less overall”.

Although most of those present wanted some insight into Facebook’s $19 billion acquistion of WhatsApp, Zuckerberg was keen to devote most of his keynote to the firm’s “internet.org” project, which aims to spread internet access to as many people as possible.

He said there were three pillars to making the internet more affordable. These are reducing the cost of the internet’s infrastructure; data optimisation; and allowing free internet access while promoting the take up of a paid-for premium product.

Each pillar is intended to make the internet 10 times more affordable, which compounded will make it 1,000 times more affordable. Zuckerberg mentioned spectrum when explaining the first of these pillars, which also relates to his “open compute” project to develop low-cost computing infrastructure.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s EMEA policy director, added at a seminar held at MWC that the company was making a growing contribution to spectrum policy discussions. This is so the company can help developed countries make a transition from a resource economy to a knowledge economy.

“The knowledge economy will be done primarily through mobile services in developed countries,” he said. “The role of service providers will be critical.”

On top of this, Facebook’s new partnership with the GSM Association, announced during MWC, has followed the well-trodden path of commissioning a prominent consulting firm to write a report advocating the allocation of additional spectrum for IMT.

Whether or not Facebook’s billions of users will be invited to “like” the reallocation of spectrum remains to be seen.