Facebook tied up with Reliance communications to provide free Internet in India. Reliance communications says the initiative by Facebook also includes a total of 33 free websites under different categories, mostly education, health and social networking. People who are using Reliance Communications will be able to use these 33 websites, including Facebook without having to pay anything. For other sites, Reliance will charge its usual charges.
This is made possible by an app called Internet.org. The app lists websites under different categories and when people check out these websites via Internet.org, they are not charged. Prior to launching the service in India, Facebook had covered Africa and Latin America with the app, thereby providing them too with free Internet.
Right now, six states of India are covered by the scheme and more will follow according to the Reliance Communications spokesperson. Mark Zuckerberg says, “we have still to a long way to go to connect India”. He adds that he is optimistic by getting free basic services into people’s hands, more changes will follow rapidly. He is true in a sense that by offering such a service, he will also be creating a sort of competition among the different mobile Internet service providers. This will bring down the costs or provide free Internet schemes to the land where more than 1 billion are yet waiting for access to the Internet.
Earlier, Microsoft and BSNL tied up to bring free Internet to India using the Television Whitespace, the unused bandwidth by TV channels. BSNL was also planning to provide 2500 cities with free WiFi. But the steps taken by Facebook are a little different in a sense that they will be providing free Internet to the areas that are yet to see an Internet connection. Both Microsoft India and BSNL will be providing free services at places where Internet may or may not already exist.
The Reliance Communications CEO said that more than 70% of people in India don’t have Internet connectivity. He said he is happy that with the help of Facebook, they’ll be offering free access to 33 popular websites. It is not clear, however, as to which company will bear charges for the free Internet.