Facebook, telcos at loggerhead over free internet access

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At a time when the social media giant Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is aiming to connect people who don’t have Internet access, the traditional telecom companies like Airtel, Vodafone and Telenor are strictly against this.

The digital world has turned into a battleground where you have Zuckerberg on one side and telecom operators on the other, fighting over whether certain services on the internet need to be distributed free-of-cost, many a times at the expense of the concept of net neutrality, which calls for unhindered access to all services.  

The telecom companies, which are investing billions of dollars for spectrum acquisition and spreading towers and optical fibre network, accuse Zuckerberg of serving his personal business interests and spread the reach of Facebook free-of-cost, and at their expense, reports Times of India.

However, Zuckerberg disagrees. “Our mission is to help people connect. This will help people stay close to their loved ones, and get access to services like health and education,” he said at a keynote address, while defending the growing activities of Facebook-led internet.org, which aims at providing free basic services in markets where internet access may be less affordable.

The operators do not with his idea of free internet calls and argue that Facebook and other social media companies are earnings billions of dollars in revenues and valuation by having a free ride on their expensive networks.

The debate is only going to get stronger in the coming days, especially as internet.org is accused to be violating the whole concept of net neutrality as it provides free access to only a few selected applications, and not all the services on internet.

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