Can the Internet be made so efficient that it's affordable for the whole world? A new white paper, released this week by an organization set up by Facebook and several other technology companies, lays out strategies and projects to do just that.
The 70-page "Focus on Efficiency" white paper, from the Internet.org organization created in August by Facebook, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Samsung, MediaTek, Nokia and Opera, outlines a variety of projects designed to provide dramatic improvements in the Net's efficiency.
Internet.org's mission is to make the Web more affordable, and the projects announced this week focus on data compression, application efficiency, server efficiency and other ways to improve the economics and thus increase the reach of the 21st century's most important technology. Currently, about 2.4 billion people of the planet's 7 billion people have Internet access .
'A Human Right'
"As founding members of Internet.org," the paper says, "we believe it's possible to build infrastructure that will sustainably provide free access to basic Internet services in a way that enables everyone with a phone to connect to the Internet."
The first efforts will focus on making access less expensive, increasing data efficiency, and assisting businesses in increasing access. To do that, the costs of data will need to be reduced, and greater efficiency will need to reduce data transmission requirements.
The white paper said that if a 10x improvement can be achieved on these fronts, "it becomes economically reasonable to offer free basic services to those who cannot afford them, and to begin sustainably delivering on the promise of connectivity as a human right."
In the paper, Facebook described some of its efforts. For instance, the social networking giant is using a system it created, Air Traffic Control, to help simulate different network conditions in its offices, with the ability to tweak bandwidth, packet loss, corrupted packets or packet ordering. The company is also in the process of transitioning to the more efficient WebP digital image format from Google, since photos are the biggest bandwidth hogs on Facebook.
The social networking giant said that it currently converts images into WebP for its Android app, and is working on rolling out the file format to other platforms. Converting to this file format, the company said, could save more than 20 percent of its total network traffic , without loss of quality. (continued...)