Facebook Refines Internet.Org Open Platform

Hoping to grow the services available in Internet.org, Facebook has developed a new open platform.

Internet.org is a Facebook-led organization trying to bring the Internet to parts of the world that have limited or non-existent Internet access. One of the primary blockades to wider Internet access comes from the cost of the service.

To overcome this impairment, Facebook has partnered with mobile operators and is able to provide free basic Internet service to many through Internet.org. This Internet service is rather limited, however, and users can only view a small number of websites. Facebook wants more websites to be available to users, but because of limited bandwidth, they can only access sites that are relatively simple and data efficient.

The open platform was developed to help websites reduce data requirements to become useable on Internet.org. Use of the open platform is free, but there are three guidelines set in place by Facebook that potential users of the platform must abide by.

The first guideline requires websites to encourage users to explore the Internet. The people who will use Internet.org have probably never used the Internet before, or have had very little exposure to it in the past. As a result, they don't really know what is available on the Internet and what it's capable of, so naturally Facebook wants websites to help show new users that worldwide Web.

The second guideline is to be efficient. Unfortunately, this guideline will exclude several Web services from joining Internet.org, but there is little choice. The service provided by Internet.org is free with extremely limited bandwidth, and inefficient websites will have difficulties. Further, regardless of how efficient they are, services that need greater amounts of bandwidth such as VoIP, video playback, file transfers, or high-resolution pictures will not be allowed.

The final guideline requires that websites be optimized for feature phones and smartphones. Given the mass production of these devices in the modern day, most Internet.org users are expected to access the Internet on some type of phone through mobile ISPs. The guideline requires that JavaScript, SSL, TLS, HTTPS, and other standards not be used, to keep websites simple.

The platform is ready, but because of the bandwidth restrictions and the level of optimization needed, it might be some time before new websites appear on Internet.org.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.