Zuckerberg: Facebook drives data usage

2015-03-03 08:57 - Gareth Van Zyl, Fin24
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (Manu Fernandez, AP)

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Barcelona - Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of social media giant Facebook, says his company is looking to work with mobile operators on ensuring their sustainability as demand for voice and text messages declines.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, Zuckerberg said that the business for mobile networks is rapidly becoming more about data.

Facebook, for instance, owns instant messaging service WhatsApp which is dubbed an 'over the top' (OTT) app, meaning it provides an extra messaging layer over a data network in addition to that of SMS.

Services such as WhatsApp and even social media offerings like Facebook have been eating away at mobile networks' SMS revenues as these OTT offerings provide cheaper communication access.

But Zuckerberg said his company plans to work with mobile networks on a way forward.

Data demand

"The business for operators used to be and for a lot still are voice and messaging, but it's increasingly shifting towards data and other things," said Zuckerberg.

"These apps drive data usage and that is the future business and I think that everyone is excited about that. The question is just how do you get there.

"People want to use these different services so people are going to pay. I think the question is which specific things do you charge for.

"Facebook we know drives data usage," added Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg, though, stressed that the data business needs to be a long-term one.

"We realise that this needs to be sustainable. I mean building up the infrastructure that is necessary to connect everyone in the world is very expensive. It's tens of billions of dollars a year what the industry is already investing in this.

"We're aware of that and we want to be a good partner in helping to grow all of these businesses," he said.

Zuckerberg's appearance at Mobile World Congress marks the second time that he's appeared at the event.

Last year, he attended the event to talk about Facebook's endeavours with Internet.org, a project that plans to connect large parts of the world to the internet.

This year, he was also asked about whether his company would partner with other tech firms such as search giant Google.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook worked with Google to launch a search service on a data-free Internet.org service in Zambia.

"I'd love to do more with them (Google)," Zuckerberg said.

Fin24 is hosted by Lenovo at the Mobile World Congress 2015.

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