Internet.Org: Features and Challenges for Net Neutrality

Internet.Org: Features and Challenges for Net Neutrality

Q. “ is a massive challenge for Net Neutrality.” Discuss and analyse.

A. Internet.Org: Key Features

• Tie up of social media company Facebook with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications

• is an initiative to provide free internet to users in developing nations; Facebook collaborates with telecom service providers and content providers

• Critical need for such services – Percentage of individuals accessing the internet in India is less than 20 percent
• China has half its populations accessing the Internet

• offers preselected bouquet of free websites to subscribers of Facebook’s telecom partner

• Practice called zero rating

• Free access is available to websites for Reliance mobile users through this service

• Delivery of zero bandwidth content, speeds dependent on the phone of the user plus the connection they have (2G/3G)

• Networks in the launch circles have been made stronger; ensures that destination site is as light on bandwidth as possible

- For using this service, users have to be Reliance Communications customers in the following states: Mumbai, Maharashtra, Chennai, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu

• Reliance customers in circles may use these but those without data plans are target audience

• 70% of mobile phone users are those without data plans; these will be able to access Internet via this project

• Population that cannot afford Internet access or is not aware of what Internet can do for them will have a chance to access it

• Company will roll out to Reliance Communication users across the nation within the next 90 days

• This project gives RCom users free access to 33 sites including Wikipedia and WikiHow as well as numerous news sites, e-commerce sites, Facebook and Facebook Messenger

• For accessing such free sites, Reliance users must log onto from the phone through Opera Mini or UC Browser

• Interface in line with smartphone users

• is set for providing a selection of services for even non-email users; users can try Facebook Messenger instead

• RCom also made services freely available to Android phone users

• Currently, there are 33 services across languages such as Hindi, English, Tamil , Telugu, Malayalam and so on. More services and languages to be added

• No social networks on board at this time; may be added later

• Bing is a default search engine

• Facebook also collaborated with Andhra Pradesh to create app APSpeaks

B. Challenges for Net Neutrality

• Subscribers have no influence regarding selection of websites

• Internet is not an open platform with everyone having equal access to such services

• could create differential access to the internet

• could possess a competitive advantage to users

• New Internet adopters can access this service via smartphones; therefore, this category of users will have additional benefits

• Facebook and Reliance have more than 100 million users in India; each user to benefit more than others

• Reliance and FB collaboration violates net neutrality and pro-access

• Net neutrality not a neutral concept; ensures that all internet traffic should be treated in an equal fashion

• Free browsing within Facebook will serve as a positive step for only limited range of users

• Web inventor Tim Berners Lee: FB RCom Tie Up=Positive traffic discrimination; a set of apps and services users are privileged over others through discounting rather than rising prices

• Available web services such as these will stagnate the market

• Neither company has revealed how services of are selected or their providers are compensated

• American tech firms and startups are new frontier for inventions and innovations but first mover advantage is being used to counter open competition

• Solution to provide access to only small FB dominated segment of web highlights clear violation of net neutrality principle

• FB is in a transitory stage; looking to gain market share through diverse means including

• How users select services and who is paid what remains unknown till this point

• Free Facebook does not equal free internet; users only have access to limited sites


Net neutrality is the most important aspect of the Internet. But services such as reduce it to a mere paradigm that is more abstract than real. However, this violation of net neutrality has evoked few protests as compared to the Airtel case. looks set to widen internet usage among FB users in gross violation of one of the most important philosophical tenets of the Internet since its formation.
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  • RE: Internet.Org: Features and Challenges for Net Neutrality -anonymous (02/18/15)
  • good coverage :)