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Facebook's Zuckerberg Reinforces Plans To Expand Internet Access

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned up this week in Barcelona. He was attending the World Mobile Congress - the annual meeting of phone and Internet companies. And NPR's Aarti Shahani reports on what he's been up to.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: There were technical difficulties, which apparently can happen at a tech conference.


MARK ZUCKERBERG: We've got some feedback over here.

SHAHANI: But screeching mics aside, there was also a mixed message. On the one hand, the young American CEO talked extensively on stage about how he's helping mobile operators to build the Internet where it does not yet exist.


ZUCKERBERG: We're this year going to launch our first satellite over Africa.

SHAHANI: Facebook is also convening the various companies that lay the cables and sell the data plans worldwide so that everyone can figure out together how to do more for less.


ZUCKERBERG: And if that goes well, then maybe some of that savings will get passed along to consumers in terms of cheaper data plans.

SHAHANI: Facebook is mapping the human population in different countries too to figure out the best way to provide Wi-Fi. Clearly, Facebook is becoming more than an app. But when asked if the California-based company should be subject to the same regulations that apply to mobile carriers in the different countries it's entering, Zuckerberg said decisively no. He doesn't build physical networks like the mobile operators.


ZUCKERBERG: We're not doing those things. Our business is fundamentally different.

SHAHANI: Lovemore Nyatsine, with Econet Wireless, a Zimbabwe carrier, says Zuckerberg is not playing fair. Facebook's products, like messing services and voice-calling services, are challenging his business.

LOVEMORE NYATSINE: I think what's very clear is that when you look at Facebook, they are freeloaders.

SHAHANI: He says as Facebook's functions look more and more like mobile carriers, it should be regulated that way. Aarti Shahani, NPR News, Barcelona. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.