Social media giant Facebook has garnered 8 lakh users in India for its Internet.org initiative that has been in the thick of the net neutrality controversy.
As part of the global initiative, Facebook had partnered telecom major Reliance Communications to offer free access to over 30 websites without data charges to users in India. Facebook has faced criticism for launching the platform as it is seen as violating the principle of net neutrality, which is against any priority being accorded to an entity in the Internet traffic flow because of payments to service providers such as telecom companies. “We have 800,000 Internet.org users in India in just the supported seven circles. Internet.org is helping people connect to the Internet for the first time,” a Facebook spokesperson told PTI.
About 20 percent of Internet.org users were previously not active on mobile data and thus, Internet.org is bringing new people online, the spokesperson said. Internet.org service is available for Reliance customers in seven telecom circles of Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Internet.org claims to have made Internet available to over 800 million people in nine countries, including India. “The goal of Internet.org is to allow more people to experience the benefits of being online… The Internet.org Platform aims to give people valuable free services that they can use to discover the entire wealth of online services and, ultimately become paying users of the Internet,” the spokesperson said.
The new Internet users acquired by Internet.org are now consuming over 100 MB of data a month outside of Internet.org, that is, paying for data from Reliance. Recently, Facebook announced an open programme for developers to create services that integrate with Internet.org. Internet.org states that it aims to bring 5 billion people online in partnership with tech giants like Samsung and Qualcomm.