América Móvil declines Facebook's call to join Internet.org

Don't expect América Móvil to join Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) highly touted Internet.org initiative. Despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's pleas for global telecom operators to join the group during his keynote address this week at the Mobile World Congress trade show, it doesn't appear that all operators are ready to jump onboard.

Speaking to BNamericas, Marco Quatorze, América Móvil's value added services director, said that the company will not be part of Facebook's Internet.org coalition, which encourages wireless carriers in emerging markets to offer a free tier of Internet service with the hope that subscribers upgrade to a paid tier once they start using the service.

"It wouldn't make any difference for us to join the initiative, as we already have partnerships with them that focus on the same ultimate goal, which is to connect more and more people," Quatorze said.

Quatorze noted that the company already offers its prepaid customers in markets such as Brazil and Mexico free access to applications such as Facebook and Twitter. Although he declined to provide specifics on how much data traffic had increased since the company starting offering the free tier, he said there has been substantial growth.

During his keynote, Zuckerberg said that 80 percent of the world's population is covered by 3G and 2G networks, and most of those people could afford to purchase at least small amounts of wireless data access. But he said these potential customers need to experience the wireless Internet before they will agree to pay for it.

Zuckerberg wants three to five additional wireless carriers to join his Internet.org effort and test out a free tier of Internet service for at least a year, in order to refine the service and create a reliable program that other wireless carriers could then use in their own markets. Zuckerberg said the free tier of service could include social networking, Internet search and market information like weather forecasts and food prices.

In the United States, América Móvil owns MVNO TracFone, which is by far the largest MVNO in the United States with 23.7 million subscribers at the end of 2013.

For more:
- see this BNamericas article

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