Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Internet.org’s Free Basics platform will now be available to everyone with a Reliance subscribers in India. The platform was initially available only for Reliance subscribers in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. In his post, Zuckerberg said, “As of today, everyone in India nationwide can access free internet services for health, education, jobs and communication through Internet.org's Free Basics app on the Reliance network.”
Free Basics also updated their Myths & Facts sheet in which they clarify some of the doubts that people may have with its services. In September, Facebook had renamed Internet.org’s website and app to Free Basics. It also added HTTPS support to its web version in order to make it more secure.
Zuckerberg held Facebook’s Townhall Q&A in Delhi last month. During the event, he was asked if he thought Internet.org supported net neutrality. He asserted that it did and that he believes net neutrality is an important principle. He went on to say that the stories saying, “Internet.org is limited internet” are not true. He added, “The operators have spent billions of dollars on the infrastructure and so you cannot get the complete internet for free.” He also said that the service is live in 24 countries and that 15 million people around the world have access to the internet because of it. In addition, he mentioned that more than one million people in India were connected to the internet due to Internet.org and that the rate of people getting on the internet doubles in places with access to the platform.
Facebook’s free internet platform has had a tumultuous time since its launch with many accusing it of violating the principles of net neutrality. Facebook’s Kevin Martin had said that Facebook has no plans to withdraw the platform from India and that it is open to all operators, not just Reliance. He also stated that Internet.org does not violate the priciple of net neutrality since it allows partnering developers to offer a lighter version of websites that will use limited bandwidth.