Amid the ongoing net neutrality debate in India, Facebook Inc has opened its free Internet access site, Internet.org for online content and application developers to join their service. It is to be noted that India has the world’s third-largest population of Internet users.
“Our goal with Internet.org is to work with as many developers and entrepreneurs as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities. To do this, the social media giant is going to offer services through Internet.org in a way that’s more transparent and inclusive.
The company claims that the platform is already unveiled and will be open to all developers with certain guidelines, including content being built for browsing on both feature and smartphones and in limited bandwidth scenarios.
“Since the services needed to be specially built to be simple and data efficient, we have developed the initial offerings on it, but increasing choice of services is critical, and therefore the company called upon developers to join,” Facebook said in a blog post on Monday.
The parameters for developers to come on board Internet.org would be to make data-light content for both feature and smart phones. The company has also issued technical requirements which can be viewed on the Internet.org site, it added.
It has emphasized that neither operator nor content developer was paying for Internet.org, which was a platform to give consumers a taste of access until they become paying customers.
Facebook had partnered with Reliance Communications to launch Internet.org in India in February with around 33 content and services providers. However, a number of e-commerce firms and content developers pulled out of the service subsequently as activists claimed it violated principles of net neutrality.
The service is currently launched in 9 countries including India, and brings over 8 Mn people online. The startups’ application offers free access to basic Internet services on mobile phones, as well as access to Facebook’s own social network and messaging services.
Commenting on the net neutrality issue, Chris Daniels, vice president of product for Internet.org said, “The principles of neutrality must co-exist with programs that also encourage bringing people online.” He also highlighted that Internet.org was open to mobile operators and involved no payments, either to or from the developers.