Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has launched a new initiative designed to bring people in poorer areas online.
Zuckerberg announced the new Internet.org initiative in a public Facebook post, confirming that the social network has already secured support from numerous other technology companies.
"For nine years, we've been on a mission to connect the world. We now connect more than [one] billion people, but to connect the next [five] billion we must solve a much bigger problem: the vast majority of people don't have access to the internet," he said in a Facebook post.
"I'm focused on this because I think it's one of the greatest challenges of our generation. I've attached a rough plan I've written outlining the work Facebook is doing to solve this and how our industry can work together to connect the next [five] billion people."
The initiative will work to increase the number of people connected to the internet using a three-tier strategy.
The first stage will work to make Internet access affordable by delivering data more efficiently. The second will make apps use less data and the third will see the group partner with businesses to develop a new, more cost-effective model to get people online. Zuckerberg claims that by partnering with other tech firms and the wider business community, he expects the initiative to have quantifiable results in five to 10 years' time.
He wrote: "With an organized effort, we think it is reasonable to expect the overall effciency of delivering data to increase by 100 times in the next five to 10 years. This will come from two types of innovation: bringing down the underlying costs of delivering data, and using less data by building more efficient apps.
"If the industry can achieve a 10-times improvement in each of these areas, which we believe is possible, then it becomes economically reasonable to offer free basic services to those who cannot afford them and start to sustainably deliver on the promise of connectivity as a human right."
Zuckerberg said the scheme will lead to a number of business benefits, creating new jobs and opening up whole new markets for companies to target.
"The world economy is going through a massive transition right now. The knowledge economy is the future. By bringing everyone online, we'll not only improve billions of lives, but we'll also improve our own as we benefit from the ideas and productivity they contribute to the world," he wrote.
"Giving everyone the opportunity to connect is the foundation for enabling the knowledge economy. It is not the only thing we need to do, but it's a fundamental and necessary step."
Facebook is one of many companies looking to increase the number of people connected to the internet. Mozilla listed getting the next two billion people online as a key goal of its recently launched Firefox OS mobile operating system.