NEW YORK–A day after India’s telecom watchdog said no to Facebook’s Free Basics, the social networking giant’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg conveyed his disappointment in a post but reiterated his commitment to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India.
In a move seen as an endorsement of net neutrality and a setback to offerings such as Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero, India’s telecom watchdog on Monday said no to discriminatory pricing of data content.
“India’s telecom regulator decided to restrict programmes that provide free access to data. This restricts one of Internet.org’s initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programmes by other organizations that provide free access to data,” the 31-year-old billionaire posted on Tuesday.
“While I am disappointed with the decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet,” Zuckerberg added.
Everyone in the world should have access to the internet.
“That’s why we launched Internet.org with so many different initiatives — including extending networks through solar-powered planes, satellites and lasers, providing free data access through Free Basics, reducing data use through apps, and empowering local entrepreneurs through Express Wi-Fi,” he wrote.
Ironically, Facebook’s Internet.org was launched a year back in India, which was later named Free Basics.
According to Zuckerberg, their work with Internet.org around the world has already improved many people’s lives as more than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through Facebook’s different programmes.
“Connecting India is an important goal we won’t give up on, because more than a billion people in India don’t have access to the internet,” he posted.
“We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that’s why we’re so committed to connecting them,” the Facebook CEO added.
“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India,” he concluded.