Speaking at the Internet.org summit in New Delhi late last year, Mark Zuckerberg had said,
Free basic internet access should be like dialing 911 in the US or 100 in India.
Mark Zuckerberg had then gone on to address the barriers to internet connectivity and explored ways to provide internet access to more than a billion people in India who aren’t yet connected. Facebook had recently launched 'Facebook Lite' a 252KB Android app that supports most of the basic functions and works on low-end smartphones, to make Facebook accessible to a larger population.
Today, Facebook has announced the tie up with Reliance Communications to launch Internet.org app in six Indian states- Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana. The service had already been launched in other countries like Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Colombia. These six states in India will have access to over three dozen services ranging from news, maternal health, travel, local jobs, sports, communication, and local government information.
Some of the services offered include Facebook , Dictionary.com, BBC News, BabyCenter & MAMA which provides information about pregnancy and childcare, Facts for Life, health and hygiene information; Girl Effect, articles and tips for girls; Reuters Market Lite, farming and crop information; TimesJobs, Translator, Wikipedia and wikiHow. You can check the entire list here.
Reliance customers in India can access these services in the Internet.org Android app or from the start screen of the Opera Mini mobile web browser or through the Android app UC Browser for Internet.org. Most of the services will be available in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi.
This step by Facebook will play a pivotal role in its expansion from here on in to reach the next billion users. There have been concerns about net neutrality considering the users will only have access to a particular set of services but talking about the launch, Facebook wrote on their blog, "This is a big step forward in our efforts to connect everyone to the internet, and to help people share their ideas and creativity with the entire world. We’ll continue to improve the experience and roll it out to other parts of the world."