Facebook’s Zuckerberg both woos and lashes out at phone industry – Reuters

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BARCELONA Feb 22 Facebook Chief
Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday tried to extend an olive
branch to mobile phone companies, on which the popular social
network company increasingly relies, but which are also among
his biggest critics.

Speaking for the third straight year to an annual gathering
of telecoms executives at the Mobile World Congress here,
Zuckerberg sought to show his company could be a valuable, if
truculent, ally to the wireless industry.

He described a new project Facebook is working on with major
telecom players, including Nokia, Deutsche Telekom
, SK Telecom and Intel to help
rapidly build far faster mobile networks at lower costs.

But while listing the various ways Facebook was prepared to
help network operators contend with spiralling consumer
appetites for data, he also criticised and made more demands on
the industry.

Zuckerberg challenged the priorities for next-generation 5G
networks, which the industry is gearing up to deliver around
2020. He called them “faster connections for rich people” and
said the companies should make more effort to “finish the job of
making sure that everyone in the world gets Internet access.”

More than 4 billion people have no access to the Internet,
he noted.

Telecom operators complain that companies like Facebook and
Google Inc that offer data-heavy mobile services are
effectively free-loading on the big investments they must make
to keep fixed-line and mobile networks from becoming overloaded.

“Facebook has always had a love-hate relationship with
carriers,” Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson said after
Zuckerberg’s comments.

Further complicating his relationships with the telecom
industry, Zuckerberg said video would be the next big driver for
Facebook growth, putting more pressure on existing networks. Its
users watch more than 100 million hours of video daily.

While criticizing the industry for failing to do more to
reach unconnected populations, Zuckerberg is a leading proponent
of new virtual reality cameras that he said could be a killer
app for 5G but which would place vast new demands on networks.

He also defended Facebook’s Free Basics program, through
which the company works with operators in emerging markets to
offer a pared-back free Internet service to reach consumers who
cannot afford data plans.

The Indian government introduced rules blocking Internet
services from having different pricing policies for accessing
different parts of the web, effectively shuttering the Free
Basics program in that country, one of Facebook’s most important
emerging markets.

Zuckerberg is kicking off a tour of Europe on Monday that
includes a town hall meeting in Berlin on Thursday.

Facebook has faced criticism in Germany in recent months
from politicians and regulators over its privacy practices and a
slow response to anti-immigrant postings by neo-Nazi
sympathisers on the popular social network.

(Additional reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb in San Francisco;
Editing by Dan Grebler)

Facebook’s Zuckerberg both woos and lashes out at phone industry – Reuters