Net Neutrality: Telcos opt-out of Facebook's Internet.org initiative
Facebook's Internet.org initiative, in principle, sounds like a fantastic idea. It would provide mobile users in developing countries with free access to certain online content which can help them to stay-in-touch, conduct business, and receive alerts for things such as natural disasters.
Internet.org first launched in India through a partnership with mobile carrier Reliance
Net neutrality has been a controversial topic and one which has been in the spotlight for quite some time. Just this week we reported that, in the US, ISPs are now able to sue the FCC for their net neutrality legislation. Despite complaints, no ISPs have yet to sue the regulator although a lawsuit was filed from a trade group which represents them.
Several campaigns have been set-up by net neutrality supporters, who have managed to convince Indian citizens to send in over 600,000 emails to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in order to voice their support or concerns before it makes its recommendations to legislative bodies over the course of the next few weeks.
Internet.org first launched in India through a partnership with mobile carrier Reliance Communications back in August 2013. Facebook's initiative, along with a similar one called Airtel Zero, have since come under fire due to the exclusive access given to some services which is unfair to competitors in those markets.
Airtel said in a statement: “Airtel fully supports the concept of Net Neutrality. There have been some misconceptions about our toll free data platform — Airtel Zero. It is a not a tariff proposition but is an open marketing platform.”
Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has spoken publicly about Internet.org on many occasions. He spent a good portion of his keynote speech at Mobile World Congress (both this year and last year) speaking about its benefits to citizens and, of course, how it brings more users than ever onto the social network giant.
Any service claiming to offer "free" access is going to be under close scrutiny. If Google's "Project Loon" ever gets a release - which aims to provide internet access via an overhead balloon - then that too will undoubtedly be watched to ensure what user data is recorded for advertising purposes and that certain services aren't being given preferential treatment.
Do you think telcos should opt-out of Internet.org? Let us know in the comments.