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Net Neutrality : Facebook looses battle in India

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2013, Mark Zuckerberg launched the Internet.org project, which aims to provide Free Internet access to the common man across world. 2014, Facebook launched the Project Internet.org in Zambia.

Internet.org allows customers of few selected Carrier partners to use a set of services for free without paying for data consumed. After Zambia, Facebook started implementing Free Internet basics in more countries, specially India and some other African countries.

A priori, the initiative of Facebook (and its partners) is commendable. The key issues arised, When some Organizations realized that this is a tactics to Rule the Internet and is a serious threat to Net Neutrality, since only few carriers were offering services over others in giving them free access, free of charge data.

Recently, The Times of India revealed that the Indian telecom regulator has asked the Reliance Communications, a partner of Facebook, to suspend Free Basics. A source said the Indian newspaper that the regulator has yet to determine whether a service provider may offer special rates for certain content and Free Basics remain suspended in the country as the regulator will not be attached to the issue.

Since the launch of Internet.ORG, Free Basics has been criticized by advocates of net neutrality. But Free Basics is blocked permanently in India, it will bring a blow to the project, not only because India is a country that has a large number of potential users for Free Basics, but also because it’s the first time the draft Facebook encounters a legal obstacle like this (at least, that’s what it seems).

India is not the first country to make a decision like this in favor of net neutrality. In another case, June 2014, Chile also decided to ban offerings that enable Internet users to access unlimited to Facebook and Twitter.

In some countries, this type of offer is the only way for smartphone owners (or internet connected phones) to access to information, given the costs of mobile data.

This is a big big blow for Facebook, as India is one of the largest user of Facebook. If we closely look at the user statistucs, you will be surprised :

  • Worldwide Facebook users : 1.59 Billion
  • India : 2nd largest with 128.9 million users ( US hit the Number one spot )
  • On an average 59 million users access FB via Smartphones in India
  • Worldwide Facebook Messenger users: 800 million

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Rakesh Bhatia

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