Mexican president pitches universal Internet in chat with Facebook’s Zuckerberg

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a video conference with Facebook Inc's Mark Zuckerberg at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 18, 2019. Press Office Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

MEXICO CITY: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he spoke with Facebook Inc's Mark Zuckerberg on June 18, inviting the social media tycoon to partner with him in a bid to promote universal internet access in Mexico.

Lopez Obrador posted on both Facebook and Twitter a short clip of his video conference with Zuckerberg in which the president notes that a fifth of Mexico’s population does not have Internet access and that he would like better connectivity to help improve social conditions, especially among the poor.

This is a programme to communicate, inform, improve education, health at a very low cost, said Lopez Obrador, who later invited Zuckerberg to participate in an unspecified form of partnership with the government.

Zuckerberg does not speak in the clip, and Lopez Obrador did not give additional details of the partnership beyond suggesting the effort should build on existing infrastructure, especially electricity lines, and that it should not seek to turn a profit.

We had the opportunity to discuss the life-changing potential of connectivity with President Lopez Obrador, a Facebook representative said in a statement to Reuters.

The representative did not confirm any potential tie-ups between the company and the Mexican government to boost internet access, but instead pointed to existing partnerships with Internet providers to create thousands of WiFi hotspots and boost access in rural communities across Mexico.

To date, the social network has partnered with providers including Viasat and Hughes in Mexico. – Reuters


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