from the facebook-uber-alles dept.
Facebook has announced the Internet.org Platform, "an open program for developers to easily create services that integrate with Internet.org." The partnership is designed to deliver affordable Internet access to the developing world. However the initiative has been criticized for violating net neutrality:
Facebook says it will allow more websites and other online services to join its "free mobile data" Internet.org scheme.
The announcement follows a backlash against the initiative. Opponents suggest it compromises the principles of net neutrality, because it favours access to some sites and apps over others.
But Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg said it was "not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free". "It costs tens of billions of dollars every year to run the internet, and no operator could afford this if everything were free," he said in an online video posted to Internet.org's website.
Also discussed at TechCrunch, Ars Technica, Gizmodo, and Quartz.
Internet Access in Developing World With Drones
Facebook's Internet.org - "Internet-For-Everyone" - Launches in Zambia
India Debates Net Neutrality
Today, we're sharing some details of the work Facebook's Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone.
We've made good progress so far. Over the past year, our work in the Philippines and Paraguay alone has doubled the number of people using mobile data with the operators we've partnered with, helping 3 million new people access the Internet.
He goes on to describe the team working on this project, including NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and the UK aerospace company Ascenta. Which casts doubt over previous speculation that Facebook is planning to acquire Titan Aerospace.
The company announced the Internet.org app on Thursday, a way for people in developing countries to use free data and access Facebook, Google search and other online resources. Through a partnership with telecom provider Airtel, the Internet.org app will be available for free, initially rolling out in Zambia.
Facebook plans to connect the world by deploying things like satellites and drones to power data connectivity in countries like Zambia, and partner with mobile operators like Airtel to provide free services.
This data doesn't cost Facebook a dime, because Airtel pays for its users' free access. This partnership works for both companies if people can use Facebook for free, they'll likely sign up for an account to stay connected to friends and family, and, when Internet.org users are ready to leave the confines of the free data, Airtel will be able to get more people to pay for it.
If users go outside of the 13 different free websites (listed in the link) -- say, by clicking on a link in a Facebook post -- they'll be notified that data charges will apply.
The debate about net neutrality in India has been heating up as the suspiciously tight April 24 deadline nears for comments on a consultation paper released on March 27 by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the country's telecom regulator. As detailed in this article, things began last Christmas.
On December 25, 2014, Airtel, the country's largest mobile operator with over 200 million active subscribers, dropped a bombshell: it wanted to charge customers extra for using services like Skype, Viber and Google Hangouts even though they had already paid for Internet access. If customers wanted to use a service that used Internet data to make voice calls — something known as VoIP — they would need to subscribe to an additional VoIP pack, the company said. Airtel was double-dipping and customers were furious. The tweets flew thick and fast. In less than four days, Airtel backtracked on its plans. It would wait, it said, for a consultation paper about net neutrality that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) would publish soon.
Once that consultation paper came out, Airtel then decided to adopt the Internet.org approach by creating 'Airtel Zero':
[Continued after the break.]
A satellite broadcasting company called Outernet wants to bring all this content many of us take for granted to the estimated 3 billion people without internet access. That catch is that, in order to get content to as many people as possible efficiently and cheaply, Outernet's connection goes only one way.
"We want to solve the information access problem as quickly as possible," Outernet co-founder and CEO Syed Karim says.
Outernet sells a simple gadget called the Lighthouse that can connect to a satellite dish and download—but not upload—information such as Wikipedia entries, public domain texts from Project Gutenberg, news, crop prices and more. The device doubles as a Wi-Fi hub, so that users can connect to it and download or browse text on their own devices. You can also build a Lighthouse-style receiver yourself, using the company's open source software and instructions. The service is free, and anyone with the proper equipment can pick up Outernet's broadcasts.
Yay, a new device to capture the spending power of the 3 billion humans who live on less than $2 per day.