As part of the global initiative, Facebook had partnered telecom major Reliance Communications to offer free access to over 30 websites without data charges to users in India.Internet.org has helped over 800,000 Indians get online, says Facebook.The company shared numbers regarding Internet.org in India, where the app is currently supported in seven telecom circles.
Facebook’s numbers also show that 20 percent of Internet.org users were previously not active on mobile data and that their app has helped more new people come online.
The company also says that Internet.org does not restrict or limit connectivity and that their platform ended up serving as a ramp to the more Internet usage. According to Facebook, the new internet users acquired by Internet.org, only 7 percent of data usage was Internet.org (including Free Facebook).
Facebook claims that these new users are now consuming more than 100MB per month outside of Internet.org. Internet.org was launched in India with Reliance Communications (RCOM) in early February 2015 and is available in seven telecom Circles (six Indian states) of Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Facebook says the goal is to extend the services to the rest of the country. Internet.org has faced criticism in light of the Net Neutrality debate in India with critics pointing out that being a zero-rating app, it violates the principle. Others have said that Internet.org restricts access to services for users and creates a walled-garden and that it won’t really help the poor get online. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended the programme saying that Internet.org can co-exist with Net Neutrality as the app is free and open to all developers and is about boosting online usage.
Recently, Facebook announced an open programme for developers to create services that integrate with Internet.org. Internet.org states that it aims to bring 5 billion people online in partnership with tech giants like Samsung and Qualcomm.