There has been a lot of buzz about Internet.org on how good, bad it is and whether it is against net neutrality. I have been reading lot of blogs and facebook posts about this and have been thinking a lot about the same. For people who are not sure about Internet.org and want to know, I will explain in simple terms.
What is Internet.org?
Internet.org is a Facebook-led idea that allows people to access “certain” websites without paying for data. Almost everyone of us pays for the Internet that we use on our computers, phones and other devices. Facebook thinks that people who cannot afford the Internet should get access to few websites without paying anything.
So How Does This Work?
Facebook needs to tie up with mobile operators in various countries who will not charge people to access a list of websites. This has to be done because facebook does not have the infrastructure in various countries to provide Internet access. Hence, they need to ask someone to do it. No one knows if facebook is paying the mobile operators or the operators are giving access for free. All we know is that people from countries where Internet.org is in action can access some websites without having a data plan on their cell phones.
What Websites are Free?
The list depends on the country you are in. Facebook says that only basic services are free. List of free websites in India are listed on Reliance Communications’s website. If you think your website or app should be included in the list of free services provided by Internet.org, you can do so. More details on this are available on the facebook developers Internet.org page.
To summarise all that is above – Facebook is allowing people to access a list of basic websites and apps without paying for the Internet. To do so they have tied up with various mobile operators in different countries. People can buy mobile services from that particular operator and access everything that is made free by Internet.org.
What is the problem and how is this against net neutrality?
The problem is for website owners and bloggers like me along with people who develop apps. If the list of free websites by Internet.org keeps on increasing, people will stop paying of Internet and ONLY access the free websites. This means no one will visit my blog anymore. People who are raising their voice against Internet.org are mainly website owners and others who think that whole of the Internet should be free.
What Do I Think About All This:
I don’t think that mobile operators will allow a lot of sites to be free. Mobile operators need to make money and they cannot just allow everything on the Internet to be free. Internet.org won’t be possible without mobile operators and Mark Zuckerberg needs to ensure that these mobile operators also keep making money. Some people say that Mark Zuckerberg will keep paying the mobile operators but I don’t think he can take care of all of them across the globe. Facebook is tying up with few mobile operators and in India and they have done it with Reliance Communications. So if everything on the Internet becomes free, every Indian will use Reliance’s service. Obviously, the Government of India will not allow this to happen as there are other service providers too.
What Can We Expect In Future?
We can expect lot more services included in the Internet.org list. This will force other mobile operators to drop their data rates and eventually Internet will cost nothing in future. We can also expect others like Google to tie up with mobile operators to have their free Internet services. This will create a competition in the market which will work in favour of the consumers.
So is Internet.org really Good or Bad?
You might have already made up your mind on whether Internet.org is good or bad or whether it is against net neutrality. I personally think this is a good move to get more people online. People who cannot afford data plans can now access information online which can be very valuable to them. Services like ticket booking, weather updates, latest news, communicating with friends and family can help people who live in remote areas and are secluded from the world.
For people who are against Internet.org, I would like to ask if you have a better plan to provide free Internet access to people who cannot afford paying for it. Someone thought about providing free Internet to the needy and he is doing it in a best possible way. If you think there can be a better way then please share.