The ongoing Free-Basics debate has now finally been put to rest. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has finally banned Facebook's Free Basics program in India citing Net Neutrality concerns. This decision has come as a big blow for the entire Facebook team, especially the company CEO Mark Zuckerberg who fathered the Internet.org plan for connecting the entire world. Facebook was trying every possible thing to make TRAI change its viewpoint on Free Basics, and had even responded to the Indian telecom regulator's letter regarding Free Basics but didn't achieve any success.
Nothing could deter the Indian watchdog from finding loopholes in this supposedly-charitable initiative by Facebook. And this hasn't happened for the first time. Internet.org plans have come under the scanner of Net Neutrality activists and regulatory authorities across the globe even before; Facebook already had to shut down a similar scheme in Egypt. In fact, if you'd ask us, then we also think that connecting the world for free without any hidden agenda (or business) sounds too good to be true. How could one of the youngest and brightest entrepreneurs of our times devise a scheme that would fetch him no dollars, no INR, and no business plugs?
However, Mark wants all of us to believe in him and his intentions of connecting the world. And this is why, even after being defeated by the TRAI yesterday, he still posted a message of hope on his timeline. He said, " Today India's telecom regulator decided to restrict programs that provide free access to data. This restricts one of Internet.org's initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programs by other organizations that provide free access to data.
While we're disappointed with today's 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."
He further added, " 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. 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. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India."
Well said Mark, but we still think there is much more to Free Basics than what meets the eyes. What do you think?