Facebook to bring Internet.org to Brazil

The partnership with the Brazilian government will aim to deliver free Internet access to low-income citizens

The Brazilian government has agreed on a partnership with Facebook to provide free Internet access to low-income citizens.

The announcement of the scheme, which is part of Internet.org, the social network's not-profit digital inclusion initiative for low-income communities, took place after a meeting between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Brazil president Dilma Rousseff at the 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama City on Friday.

The project will start by offering free fast Wi-fi at Heliópolis, São Paulo's largest slum and home to about 200,000 people. It is understood that the company's intention is to use the existing project as a blueprint to understand the challenges associated with a countrywide roll out.

"The President and I both believe that everyone should share in the social and economic benefits of connectivity," Zuckerberg said on a Facebook post.

"We talked about the opportunities for technology to bring diverse communities closer and also to improve education," he added.

It is expected that Zuckerberg will launch his digital inclusion project in Brazil during a visit to the country in June. Facebook has an audience of some 83 million users in Brazil, its second-largest user base after the US.

Improving Brazil's Internet access services has been high up on president Rousseff's agenda. A new national broadband plan, to be introduced in the first half of 2015, will see more government investment and the creation of "synergies" between the public and private sector to deliver quality broadband to the maximum amount of citizens at a lower cost and faster speeds.

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