Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now considering a change in name for the controversial internet.org platform. Now being called Free Basics, it is meant to provide web access to more people by offering it free of cost. Free Basics will also allow these new users to enjoy complimentary services from around 250 partners.
Supported by leading mobile phone manufacturing companies like Nokia and Samsung, this free internet service from Facebook aims to connect around 4.4 billion people who are yet to be introduced to the online world.
Who will benefit?
Eventually, Free Basics aims to connect areas that don’t have internet connectivity. This will be done using drones and laser technology. But currently, the platform aims to bring low network areas such as 2G networks under the Free Basics bandwagon.
People living in India and other developing nations are going to benefit from the service. Surveys indicate that people living in remote areas will receive better guidance for pregnancy care, parenting, education and even farming using free internet services.
Read more about the debate: The Net Neutrality Debate: Larger Than You Thought
What is the catch?
The concept of Free Basics is in direct contrast with the concept of net neutrality that smaller players and the advocates of internet are against. Subscribing to Free Basics implies only players who pay the provider will be accessible to users.
Ever since the internet has penetrated Indian households, it has given opportunity to entrepreneurs to expand and innovate. When they will have to start paying to be seen and heard on the internet, the market will only be available for the giants in every vertical.
For the end user, this means they will not have access to the new players. They would have restricted access to news, information and e-commerce.
When the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi met Mark Zuckerberg, this issue has been brought to light once again.