Facebook is planning to extend the US its controversial Free Basics service, which offers a free but limited internet access to individuals who don’t have it.
The social networking business has been in talks with the White House and wireless carriers about introducing the plan in a way that doesn’t pull the criticism and regulatory examination it's confronted elsewhere, in accordance with a report in the Washington Post.
Free Basics, which began life as Internet.org, is a program that provides users with access to Facebook curated online services, for example news, employment and health education. These services zero-rated”, which suggests that users don’t get billed for the data.
The firm meant to provide a means for the world’s without needing to pay for expensive data plans poorest individuals to get the benefits of the net, but it attracted criticism for cherrypicking sites instead of giving individuals unfettered use of the net.
Proponents of web neutrality, who say that internet service providers shouldn't get to pick and choose which online services count against data caps because it gives an unfair advantage to the ones that are zero- rated.
Facebook has since revised its strategy to Free Basics, permitting any third party firm to offer its content or services included in the program, so long as it supplies a pared-down version of the web site or app (so no high-resolution pictures) that doesn’t consume a lot of info.
The US version of Free Basics would, according to the Post, target low income and rural Americans who cannot afford dependable high-speed internet access. It'd offer users, via partnerships with mobile operators, the ability to view a selection of resources that fit Facebook’s demands.
Even with the changes to the Free Basics program, some critics remain cautious.
“Free Basics isn’t the internet, it’s an application that connects individuals to web- like services but doesn’t connect them to the open net itself,” said senior strategy manager at Free Press and Free Press Action Fund, Timothy Karr.
“Facebook says it’s a stopgap, a half step to getting people online, but nothing that the business is doing addresses the largest issue for adoption of the open net in the US which will be affordability.
Karr acknowledged that Facebook hasn’t unveiled the details of its plans to bring the US the service but suggests they focus on building infrastructure that was web to ensure that access becomes more affordable for everyone.
“It’s worrying when you might have a business as strong as Facebook inserting itself as a gatekeeper to the world that is online.”
Most recently the firm has been rolling out the service across many African nations. In addition to creating the service and negotiating the deals with local providers, the company is also analyzing infrastructure such as for example satellites and solar-powered drones to beam the web direct to remote communities.
Facebook’s mission is to connect the world While we've nothing to announce and we’re consistently investigating means to accomplish that, including in the United States,” a Facebook spokesman said.