Mark Zuckerberg’s Delhi town hall tomorrow kicks off at 12:00PM IST. The Facebook CEO has already flown down to India, and was today visiting the Taj Mahal. With less than a day to town hall session, here’s a look at what we expect Zuckerberg to discuss.
Free Basics or Internet.org as it was earlier known, is bound to be one of the main topics of discussions. All the controversies and net neutrality debate aside, we expect Zuckerberg to talk about the initiative, and how it is presently doing. Free Basics was launched in September with nearly 250 services on board, and now he is likely to talk about what services have been added onto the platform.
Sticking with Free Basics, Zuckerberg is also expected to provide more clarity on the recent pilot project in India called Express Wi-Fi. The company has been testing this project near the Nepal border in partnership with AirJaldi. As a part of this initiative, users can access 100MB of data for Rs 10, or pay Rs 200 for 20GB of data per month. More than 30,000 people are said to have started using this service, with nearly 6,000 using it on a daily basis.
Recently Facebook announced that there were more than 132 million active users in India, and almost 90 percent of them only accessed the social network on their mobile phones. More than 1.5 million small and medium businesses have their pages on Facebook, and we can expect some more India-specific stats.
These numbers are proof that India is an important market for Facebook, and Zuckerberg could talk about various initiatives in the country. Expect more clarity on Facebook’s tie up with Nasscom to support budding startups in the country, and its FBStart initiative, which has distributed about $20 million in benefits to developers in India.
Zuckerberg has made it amply clear that he is a strong supporter of PM Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative. It won’t be surprising to see him express his support again now that he is in the country, and also talk about what Facebook is doing to leverage the initiative.