Facebook Inc ’s controversial Free Basics service is having a rough in India. The authorities in India have asked the firm that offer Free Basics – basic access to the Internet – to stop the program, says a report from TOI.
Free Basics “in abeyance”
The authorities (TRAI) had asked RCom to halt the service until a decision is reached on its consultation process around differential pricing of data by operators. Dec 30 is the last date for public comments on Trai’s paper.
RCom has confirmed of suspending the services. “As directed by Trai, the commercial launch of Free basics has been kept in abeyance, till they consider all details and convey a specific approval,” the firm said.
Facebook Inc came up with Free Basics to give users access to several Internet services such as news, maternal health, jobs and local info. Such services are a part of its Internet.org initiative, which was unveiled last year in many countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The initiative has been criticized by many who say that in the wake of free and open Internet, the US firm is serving itself and few other online venues. Others accuse the the Menlo Park outfit of forcing other firms to offer their services at no cost.
In April, many Indian web publishers pulled out from the Internet.org, saying Facebook gave preferential treatment to some of the sites, platforms and services.
Facebook has not given up yet
Despite the opposition and a hold on the service, Facebook is trying hard to get its ‘Free Basics’ up again in India. The US firm has come up with an aggressive campaign to gather public support for its service, says TOI.
“Free Basics by Facebook is a first step to connecting one billion Indians to jobs, education, and opportunities online, and ultimately a better future. But Free Basics is at risk of being banned, slowing progress towards digital equality in India,” reads an ad for Free Basics.
Facebook Inc said that in a recent representative poll 86% of the Indians were in support of the Free Basics and concept of everyone deserving access to such basis Internet services. The US firm is giving a full-page ad in leading Indian newspapers asking users to support its initiative. The ads, which are also put up at several public places, carry a toll-free number where people can give a missed call to show their support for the service.
On Wednesday, Facebook shares closed down 0.83% at $104.63. Year to date, the stock is up over 34% while in the last one-month, it is down over 2%.