to continue; Facebook to shift focus to other parts of programme

Feb 23: Disappointed with Trai’s ruling banning Free Basics, Facebook has said it will now focus on other parts of the programme and wants to work with all operators in order to get more people on the Internet.

“We recently had a ruling in India that says there should be no differential pricing for services, even if you are trying to give some basic services for free, that’s not going to be allowed. So, that’s disappointing for the mission of what we are trying to connect people and is a major setback in India,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said here last night in his keynote address at the Mobile World Congress.

He said that in India to connect people, Facebook will focus on different programmes such as parts of and wants to work with all operators.

“In India, we are going to focus on different programmes, so there are parts of that we are focused on… we want to work with all the operators there,” Zuckerberg said.

He added that the move will lower data prices and as equipment gets cheaper, it will also help roll-out networks in areas where previously it was not economical so that more people will be able to get on to the Internet

“Every country is different… the models that may work in one country may not work in another. Even since this message you get in India, we continue rolling out Free Basics in other countries,” he said about the ruling.

On the argument given by operators to have same service same rules, the Facebook founder said that as an operator setting up towers, its business is different.

“Consumers don’t pay to use Facebook, they pay to use the data,” he added.

Mobile operators have been seeking same service same rules for over-the-top players like Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Skype as the applications offer same calling services but are not under any kind of regulation.

Trai had earlier delivered its verdict on differential pricing favouring Net Neutrality. It has now been announced that the controversial service that aimed to offer access to basic web services to underprivileged users for free has now been shut down in India.

This was followed by Facebook releasing a statement on its websiteTheNextWeb, saying that the company simply stated that “Free Basics is no longer available to people in India.”


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