I support Zuckerberg’s vision of connecting world through internet.org and you will too after reading this article!
Recently, Narendra Modi visited Facebook Headquarter for their flagship Q & A session called Townhall Q & A meet. After meeting with our honourable prime minister, Mr. Zuckerberg (Founder & CEO of Facebook) changed his profile picture in Indian Flag Tricolour filter and launched a link or widget through which Facebook users can change their profile picture as well with the tricolour filter to support Digital India Initiative, which went viral. However, people took this thing differently and thought that Zuckerberg is trying to promote Non-Net Neutrality through Internet.org and users who are changing their profile pictures to the tricolour filter are actually supporting Internet.org. Later that evening, an engineer from Facebook confirmed that it was just a small code mistake which they had resolved and also confirmed that changing profile picture to tricolour does not mean supporting Internet.org but it means that you support to Digital India Initiative, which we all actually do. But question comes up that why all of a sudden people started showing an outrage towards Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative Internet.org, which is one of the most amazing initiatives taken for digitization. I am sure after going through this article, your respect for Mark Zuckerberg will increase!
First of all, we are already having Net Neutrality and we are actually against Non-Net Neutrality. Mark Zuckerberg is also opposes Non-Net Neutrality. To understand what the vision of Mark Zuckerberg is, we’ve got to understand what Net Neutrality is and what Non-Net Neutrality is. Net Neutrality is what we are having right now, which means we don’t have any caps in using any internet services or mobile apps such as Facebook, Google, Whatsapp, Linkedin etc. Right now our Internet is neutral for all websites and applications. It gives same speed and bandwidth to access these dot com services. However Non-Net Neutrality will be a situation in which we would have to pay an extra amount of money to our Telecom companies for accessing certain websites & applications on our phone. How does this Non-Net Neutrality situation would look like? If in case Non-Net Neutrality comes up, then I can easily relate this with our DTH (direct to home) connection for our TV. Right now, your DTH Service Provider gives you a basic package of channels with it. Basic Package includes some of the channels but not all. Which channels are not included in basic package? Well it would be the channels which we would actually want to watch the most. So in order to get English Movie Channel unlocked, you would have to buy additional package; if you want to watch Sports channels, again you would have to buy additional package. Similarly if Net does not remain neutral for all websites & apps, then you and me would actually have to pay extra for accessing certain websites & apps which we actually use the most in our day to day life.
Non-Net Neutrality is something what our country’s top telecom companies has proposed to DoT. (Department of Telecommunications). As per the telecom companies, their margins and profits has gone down because of free services of communication provided by some of the internet companies. For Example: Prior to Whatsapp, SMS was the highest used medium to communicate among friends & family. Whatsapp replaced SMS & MMS facility with their app. Now SMS is only used for transactional purpose and hardly anyone send SMS above Whatsapp to their friends & family. In short it’s not internet companies such as Facebook or Google trying to bring Non-Net Neutrality. To understand about Non-Net Neutrality, many industry influencer and experts have already shared their views and explanation on the internet through videos and blogs.
What is Internet.org?
Internet.org is an initiative by Mark Zuckerberg to provide basic internet service in those remote areas and location of world, where there is no internet available due to lack of infrastructure. As per his recent speech at United Nations meeting held in New York, he mentioned through his research that 4 billion people around the world does not have access to internet at all. Does that seem a small number? It’s not actually, let me help you through some more numbers. Current population of the world is somewhat more than 7 billion people and out of these 7 billion people, 4 billion people can’t access internet at all, which is more than 50% of the world population, which don’t have access to internet. Mark Zuckerberg through an initiative called Internet.org is trying to provide access to basic internet to these 4 billion people. So that they can raise their voice on the internet.
India is 2nd largest country in the world in terms of Population. Currently India is having population of more than 1.2 billion people, out of 1.2 billion people only 350-400 million people have access to Internet, which means more than 65% people in India do not have access to Internet at all. So Mark Zuckerberg is trying to provide free internet to these 800 million people who are left without Internet. What is wrong with it? It’s not only Facebook who is working on providing free internet to everyone through Internet.org but Google is also putting their efforts to provide internet in rural & remote areas through their initiative called Google Loon. Google Loon is a project initiated by Google X Team to provide connectivity of internet in those unreached remote & rural areas through balloons. Sounds crazy right but it’s really exciting.
Probable benefit of Facebook & Google by initiating such campaign
Currently Facebook has around 1.5 billion users which is more than India’s Population and which also means 1 out of every 7 person on this earth use Facebook to connect with their friends & family. Recently, Facebook celebrated one of their biggest milestones. What was this Milestone? On August 24th, 2015, it was the first time in the history of Facebook, where 1 billion people around the world logged in to their Facebook account same day, which means 1 out of 7 person on this earth were on Facebook. Facebook never touched this number of people using Facebook same day before. So what could be probable benefit of Facebook from this initiative? Out of 7 billion users, 3 billion people have access to internet and again out of this 3 billion people around 1.49 billion have account with Facebook. So if Facebook is able to bring even 2 billion out of 4 billion people who doesn’t have access to Internet, then out of those 2 billion people it’s likely that around 1 to 1.5 billion people will create account with Facebook. Which will simply double the current number of Facebook users. Well Facebook is free for everyone then how do they make money? Facebook’s prime source of income is advertisements. Last year, in 2014, Facebook reported a total revenue of $12.46 billion (Net Income: $2.94 billion). So its simple calculation, if Facebook is able to ramp their number of users from 1.49 billion to 3 billion anywhere in next 5 years then it’s likely to increase their revenues by double within next 5 years.
Why Mark Zuckerberg is very much interested in Digitalizing India?
As mentioned earlier, our country has around 1.2 billion people out of which around 400 million people has access to internet and out of these 400 million, somewhat around 110 million people use Facebook or have a Facebook account, which is hardly 1/10 of our total population. Every one of us know that India is the 2nd largest country by population in the world after China. Facebook predicts that if Internet is provided to remote & rural areas in India through their Internet.org initiative then it’s likely to increase innovation and development in India and also their number of users. However vision of providing basic internet for free to everyone is also pretty amazing idea that I support. Back in February, 2015 Reliance Telecommunication announced their agreement with Internet.org to provide free internet services to all of their subscribers. Currently Internet.org offers access to 38 websites & applications free of cost. If user wants to access any other website except this 38, they will have to pay normal surfing charges of as per the terms of Reliance.
List of Sites & Apps available to access freely through Internet.org
|Social Networking||Facebook Messenger|
|Health||Malaria No More|
|Health||Facts for Life (Unicef)|
|Health||BabyCenter & MAMA|
|Information||Reuters Market Lite|
|Information||Basics of Internet|
|Women Empowerment||Nike Foundation (Girl Effect)|
|Women Empowerment||UN Women (iLearn)|
Unfortunately, people on Facebook thought that by changing their profile pictures in tricolour, they are supporting Internet.org and indirectly to Non-Net Neutrality. I would like to clear it one more time. Internet.org and Net Neutrality issue, both are way different and has no connection in between. By supporting Internet.org, you are actually supporting an initiative of providing free basic internet to rural population of India.