Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Pitches Internet.org At Townhall In New Delhi
Facebook has taken another step in expanding the reach of its Internet.org, now called Free Basics, platform in India.
In a post on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We just took another step towards connecting India. As of today, everyone in India nationwide can access free internet services for health, education, jobs and communication through Internet.org’s Free Basics app on the Reliance network.”
In his post Zuckerberg also claimed how Free Basics has helped Ganesh Nimbalkar, a farmer in Maharashtra, not only double his crop yield but also get a better deal for them. Zuckerberg wrote, “Ganesh struggled with traditional farming methods in a region plagued by droughts, but last year he started using Free Basics — accessing services like AccuWeather, which helped him work better through the monsoon season, and Reuters Market Light, which helped him understand commodity prices and get a better deal for his crops. By using Free Basics, Ganesh has doubled his crop yield, eradicated insect infestations and even invested in new crops and livestock.”
We just took another step towards connecting India. As of today, everyone in India nationwide can access free internet…
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, November 23, 2015
Facebook founder Zuckerberg was in India last month to address a townhall at IIT-Delhi. During the event, Zuckerberg said that he supported net-neutrality “100%”, but added that he also strongly backed zero-rating.
Facebook’s initiative, Internet.org has generated much debate on the subject. The service, delivered in collaboration with telecom operators, allows access to online content on “basics” such as health, education and employment and subscribers aren’t charged for the data used.
Activists argue that such “zero-rating” plans go against the principle of net neutrality. But Zuckerberg believes that’s “going too far”. Answering questions at Facebook’s first Town Hall Q&A in India, held at IIT-Delhi, he said: “Net-neutrality is a very important principle and we do a lot to support it in terms of pushing for regulation. This debate (exists) because countries are trying to figure out what their regulation should be.”
Telecom major Bharti Airtel and Facebook also recently announced the launch of free internet access service platform across 17 African countries in phases by March 2016. Airtel Africa had already been working with Facebook since 2014 in enhancing accessibility to the internet in an affordable manner through the launch of Free Basics in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda.