As we all recall, internet.org is the ambitious product of colaboration between Anil Ambani’s Reliance communications and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. The service which has been a matter of controversy between the companies and the subscribers on the grounds of breaching the core values of net neutrality by giving preferential treatment to certain types of data services, now claims it has successfully introduced 1 million Indians to the world of internet who were previously never online.
We piloted this for six months in seven circles. And in six months, I am happy to share with you, we brought nearly one million people to come on the internet and experience the internet,” Reliance Communications’ Consumer Business CEO Gurdeep Singh told the company shareholders as reported by financial express.
Internet.org which is being renamed as Free basics claims to be working towards getting people in developing countries like India on to the internet for free through tie-ups with telcom operators. However, concerns have been raised in some quarters about this programme being against the spirit of Net Neutrality — the ability to access a website or internet service of choice. Those registering for the programme can access only select websites.
Speaking at RCOM’s Annual General Meeting here, Singh said the websites chosen as part of the programme are specially created ones which are light on data consumption. “These are internet sites which are not normal sites. These are reduced, truncated, low on bandwidth consumption, almost negligible on the bandwidth consumption, (which is) as good as providing information offline,” he said.
Facebook got in the technology, we brought in the distribution to go to market,” he said, adding that the tie-up is very close to the heart of RCOM Chairman Anil Ambani. “Be it education, health, jobs, financial inclusion, travel…anything you can think of will help improve life of an individual was brought under this platform working with like-minded partners,” he said. Singh added that 30 per cent of its over 100 million mobile phone subscribers are on the internet a present, and over half of these access it on the faster 3G services.
After the visit to Silicon valley, san Jose USA for the Digital India meet, Prime minister Narendra Modi’s stand towards internet.org has softened. We can only wait and watch what the outcome of this initiative is, whether it survives the regulation of the government or ends up dead like Airtel’s Zero platform.