A few weeks back, we at Streetwise Journal reported that Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to bring free internet for all to India was facing extreme opposition within the 1.2 billion strong nation.
In the latest twist in the ongoing saga, India’s telecom regulator has moved to block the plan legally, ruling that service providers must include all content (“net neutrality”). This is a near death-blow to the ‘Free Basics’ plan offered by Facebook to India.
The service offered free basic internet access to users, including information on health, education, travel, jobs and some access to local government regulations and financial information. The service also offered users access to some apps including Accuweather and Baby Centre.
Accused by critics of trying to create a monopoly, Zuckerberg has always fired back at critics, outlining that there are no advertisements or charges for the services and that the move was part of his master plan to connect the globe, which he believes changes lives for the better in most cases.
India currently has one of the top tech sectors in the world, while millions of its poorest have no internet access whatsoever.
Could Free Basics have changed that? We’ll never know. Since it has now been blocked by regulators, it has little chance of ever seeing the light of day in India.