Mark Zuckerberg, in a Facebook post announced that Internet.org can now be accessed across the country, through Internet.org’s Free Basics app on the Reliance network. Earlier, ClearTrip, NDTV, DailyHunt and Times Internet withdrew itself from the program, so as to support net neutrality.
A look at the source code and well, the profile pic is NOT for the support of Digital India, but for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative. In a response to DoT, Facebook just announced that 17 million people have supported the Internet.org service.
Anyone currently using the app will be able to continue using the Android app, though it will now be called Free Basics by Facebook in Google Play. And the mobile web version, which will redirect from the previous URL, can be accessed at FreeBasics.com.
Facebook will launch “connectivity lab”, which is looking at Drones and unmanned aerial vehicle to lower the cost of service to people without infrastructure.Also rolling out a kind of Wi-Fi service at a lower cost in India. Facebook’s Internet.org is potentially an anti net-neutrality play.
Facebook users in India have been seeing a pop-up message asking them to support Internet.org. However, the message lacks the option to answer with ‘no’ and instead only allows users to postpone hitting ‘yes’. The move comes at a time when the DoT panel on Net Neutrality proposed against having services such as Internet.org in India.
The announcement comes a year after Facebook kicked off its Internet.org initiative. So far the company has worked with just 12 operators across 17 countries. The company has launched a portal to accept operator sign ups for the initiative. Internet.org was accused of being anti net neutrality following which Facebook opened up the platform to all developers and websites.
Globally the company claims it has over 800 million users spread across 9 different countries. Further, about 20% of Internet.org users were not active on mobile data, meaning they’re new users. The new users who were introduced to the Internet via Internet.org are now consuming a minimum of 100MB of data every month on Reliance’s network.
The move comes soon after the Internet.org initiative was targeted for being anti net neutrality because it provided access only to a select number of websites and services. Facebook claimed that it chose the previous group of partners in order to build a simple and data efficient offering, however since consumer choice is of great importance, it is opening up the platform to other developers.
In another blow to Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, media outfits Times Internet and NDTV has announced their withdrawal from the program. Their move is in support of Net Neutrality in India, and follows Cleartrip’s announcement of pulling out of Internet.org and Flipkart ending its partnership with Airtel Zero.
Cleartrip has announces its withdrawal from Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, citing that it is a supporter of Net Neutrality. The company added that it recognised the conflict of interest by participating in the program, but defended its initial move as wanting to be a part of a noble cause.
Over 70% of India’s mobile subscribers are still offline, and the internet.org’s prime focus will be to get them to adopt the Internet through availability of apps, services and websites at no cost
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