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MENLO PARK -- Facebook said Thursday that it will offer free, limited Internet access to mobile phone subscribers in the African nation of Zambia, as part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Internet.org initiative to introduce affordable online services in developing regions of the world.

Airtel phone customers in Zambia will be able to use Facebook and 12 other online services, including AccuWeather, Google Search and apps that focus on women's rights, health information and employment, without mobile data charges. Facebook has negotiated with wireless companies to provide free access to the social network in other countries, but this will be the first time it offers access to other services through the Internet.org website and a new Android mobile app.

Through the Internet.org app, Airtel customers in Zambia will have basic access to weather reports, e-books, job listings and more. (Facebook photo)
Through the Internet.org app, Airtel customers in Zambia will have basic access to weather reports, e-books, job listings and more. (Facebook photo)

The program could benefit Facebook in the long run by introducing more people to the social network and expanding the audience for Facebook's advertising business. While acknowledging the point, Zuckerberg has also said Internet access will bring economic and social benefits to developing nations.

Follow this reporter at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey or google.com/+BrandonBaileyOnline or on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/ULIOfb



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