Facebook Scales Up Internet.Org Initiative

Image result for internet.org usersFacebook’s Internet.org initiative has worked with mobile operators in 17 countries over the past year to provide people access to relevant basic internet services without data charges, and now is available to more than a billion people, with more than nine million people getting online as part of the program.

People now have access to basic internet services including tools and resources for communication, health, education and local news.

Over the past 30 days, for example, people have used Internet.org health services more than a million times.

Facebook says Internet.org brings new users onto mobile networks 50 percent faster after launching free basic services/

Also, within thre first 30 days, more than half of the people who come online through Internet.org become mobile data subscribers.


To scale operations, Facebook has created a partner portal that includes technical tools and best practices, improving the process to offer free basic services to the unconnected.

As nearly as outside observers can tell, Facebook remains committed to the program, despite opposition in some quarters about creation of a two-tier Internet, walled gardens or network neutrality concerns.

In some ways, those concerns are hard to understand, unless one takes the position that network neutrality must extend beyond consumer right to use any lawful app (“no blocking”) to other practices including app performance optimization, any type of bit “discrimination” (“treat all bits exactly the same”) that arguably have end user experience benefits, direct cost benefits or provide additional value.

In other words, some might argue, the important principle that people should have unrestricted access to lawful apps is conflated with many other issues not directly related to lawful app access, and instead restrict entirely normal and lawful business practices.

Retailers routinely run promotions, offer discounts, use coupons, sales and other product offers to get new customers. Internet.org only encourages sampling of Internet apps, creating awareness of the value of the full Internet.

Some might object to Internet.org apps being optimized for low-bandwidth environments.
That simply is a practical requirement for users in areas where the only data bandwidth available is 2G.

The zero rating of Internet.org apps does not happen because Facebook pays mobile operators.

In fact, Facebook pays nothing to mobile operators who are part of the program, and ultimately succeeds only if new users who sample Internet.org also sign up for mobile data plans in numbers sufficient to compensate mobile operators for allowing the free access.

Also, no company pays Facebook to be part of Internet.org.

For Facebook, there also is no direct revenue stream, as no ads are allowed in Internet.org apps.

Internet.org offers more than 100 free basic services globally and gives people choice over the services that they want to use.

A key guideline for developer participation is to encourage the exploration of the entire internet, Facebook says.
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