Reliance Communications (RCom) yesterday said that it has got 1 million Indians online through Internet.org. Reliance teamed up with Facebook earlier this year, to provide the zero rating platform to its subscribers.
According to a PTI report, Gurdeep Singh, Consumer Business CEO of Reliance Communications, said, that the company has piloted the Internet.org programme in seven telecom circles for six months. “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,” he said. In February this year, Facebook announced that Reliance Communications will be offering the free internet platform to users in India. However, users can access only a limited number of websites through the programme. “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,” Singh said at RCom’s annual general meeting.
Around 30 million Reliance subscribers currently have access to the Internet, according to Singh. He said that the Internet.org initiative 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 added.
Facebook’s initiative to provide free internet access in developing countries, has faced quite a bit of criticism. Proponents of net neutrality have been vocal in their protests about how Internet.org violates the principle. While Facebook has always maintained that its zero rating platform does not violate the spirit of net neutrality, activists remain unconvinced. CEO Mark Zuckerberg had defended Internet.org by saying, “I support net neutrality because, at its core, it's about preventing discrimination. Net neutrality means we can use the services we want, and innovators can build the services we need.Connecting everyone is about preventing discrimination too.”
Recently, Facebook renamed the app to Free Basics. According to the company, the Internet.org platform is now available in 19 countries across Asia, Africa and South America.