India crucial to global internet connectivity, says Zuckerberg
Wed 11 Feb 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a partnership with Reliance Communications to launch an Indian version of the free mobile data service Internet.org.
The app will offer Indian users free access to basic internet services for education, news, travel, health, jobs, and communication across 38 websites.
“One day, we will connect everyone, and the power of the internet will serve every community across India and the world. That day is coming,” wrote Zuckerberg.
“To continue connecting the world, we have to connect India,” he said referring to over 1 billion people, of India’s 1.2 billion population, without internet access. As of December last year, the majority of the population (944 million) owned a mobile phone, yet the country had just over 243 million internet users, of which only 86 million had broadband access.
Zuckerberg described his trip to the small Indian village of Chandauli last October, which had recently received an internet connection. “Knowledge and tools were starting to make life better for everyone,” he said.
Facebook is initially launching Internet.org in six Indian states, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and Telanagan, before fully rolling the project out nationally.
Reliance Communications CEO Gurdeep Singh suggested that around 60 million users would enjoy internet access for the first time via the app.
“For me, even if this brings customer loyalty and reduces churn, it is worthwhile,” Singh explained.
Of Internet.org’s success, Zuckerberg said: “Over the last year, we’ve rolled out Internet.org free basic services to countries with more than 150 million people total across Africa and Latin America […] More than 6 million people are already connected to the Internet who previously weren’t.”
Reliance Communications customers in India can access the free services through the Internet.org Android app available at www.internet.org. On other mobile devices, the service can be accessed directly through the browser.