India rejects Facebook's "Free Basics" programme
In 2015, Facebook created the "Free Basics" programme, in which the company partnered with telephone carriers in various countries to offer free access to Facebook - that is, using Facebook would not count against their data plan. While critics argued the plan is anti-competitive, violates the principles of network neutrality and didn't empower users to build their own culturally and contextually appropriate solutions, Facebook claimed that the service would help get India's hundreds of millions of unconnected people online. The country has 600,000 villages, which prime minister Narendra Modi had said he hoped to connect with optical fiber by 2020. India's telecom regulator, TRAI, finally ruled against Facebook in February 2016 and banned the service, along with other zero-rated services. Investigations suggested that in fact most of the people using Facebook via Free Basics were already online users. According to TRAI's own figures, in November 2015 approximately 10% of the Indian population had broadband, whether wireless or fixed.
Tags: access, India, Facebook, Free Basics, network neutrality
Writer: Rajat Agrawal