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Internet.org Opens to More Mobile Operators

Facebook plans to scale up its service to provide free basic Internet on mobile phones one year after introducing the Internet.org platform. In a blog post celebrating Internet.org’s first birthday on Sunday, Facebook announced that it will open up the platform to any mobile carrier that is willing to provide free Internet services to unconnected countries across the world. ‘We used to live in an economy that was primarily resource based,’ says an ad on the site. ‘But the future of the world economy is a knowledge economy. The Internet is really the backbone of the knowledge economy.’

Internet.org, launched a year ago, is a Facebook-led initiative which aims to make the Internet available to every country in the world. Already backed by mobile carriers like Nokia and Samsung, over the past year it has gone online in 17 countries, connecting 9 million people. Once users log on to the service via a mobile app or through the website, they can access Facebook’s Messenger and browse the Internet free of charge. Mobile carriers must adhere to guidelines that require apps to use minimal bandwidth so users aren’t hampered by slow data speeds.

Internet.org faced backlash when it launched in India in February for violating Net neutrality by handpicking the companies which could use its platform. Some critics argued that it was actually restricting free and open Internet by giving preferential treatment to certain companies. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg rebuffed those charges. ‘Internet.org doesn’t block or throttle any other services, or create fast lanes,’ he told India’s Hindustan Times.

The company has also assuaged concerns that Facebook is forcing carriers to offer their services for free. ‘This is really a customer acquisition tool for mobile carriers where the benefit to them of offering a very light amount of free data is to bring on more paying subscribers to their networks,’ said Chris Daniels, vice president of Internet.org. Facebook’s blog post said that more than half of Internet.org users join faster, paid data plans within the first 30 days.

Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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Internet.org Opens to More Mobile Operators Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, July 31, 2015 Rating: 5

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