UPDATE 1-Facebook launches mobile app offering free Internet in Colombia
(Adds detail on number of Colombian Facebook users)
By Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta
BOGOTA Jan 14 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc on Wednesday launched a mobile phone application that gives Colombian users free access to a handful of online services, broadening Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg's effort to boost Internet usage in developing markets.
Colombia is the first nation in Latin America to receive the new Internet.org service, in partnership with local mobile phone provider Tigo, but the aim is to push the application across the region.
The tools offered by the service provide a foundation Colombians can use to "build their own prosperity" Zuckerberg said at a presentation in Bogota with President Juan Manuel Santos.
"By giving people these basic tools for free, you're creating an equal playing field," Zuckerberg said, referring to entrepreneurs who could use the free Internet to start or grow a business.
Internet.org will offer more than a dozen services via the Android operating system, including online encyclopedia Wikipedia, weather websites, job listings and health information, as well as Facebook's own social network and messaging service.
Access to the application's services is free, but links that lead to information on other websites will require users to pay data charges.
The service may even aid the country, which has 21 million Facebook users, as it seeks an end to 50 years of war with Marxist rebels, Zuckerberg said. Continuación...