is now a Platform, open for all developers to build and integrate their apps

0 is a coalition of Facebook, Samsung, Opera, Nokia, Qualcomm and MediaTek and a few other large technology companies that are attempting to bring low-cost Internet access to the next five billion people in underserviced parts of the world. After the heated Zero Rating and Net neutrality debate that engulfed India’s internet world – some of the partners, mainly Cleartrip and NDTV pulled out of the program.

Today, Facebook made a swift move to counter the criticism by allowing any third-party developer to integrate within the platform, with a condition of developers meeting technical guidelines. Now it works with approach which is very similar to Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store. claims it is open to all mobile operators and involves no payments, either to or from the developers. "We've heard the debate about net neutrality in India and have been tracking it. The principles of neutrality must co-exist with programs that also encourage bringing people online," Chris Daniels, vice president of product for, told Reuters. This is a testament for India flexing its muscle in shaping the future of the Internet.

Mark Zukerberg said, “Our goal with is to work with as many developers and entrepreneurs as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities. To do this, we’re going to offer services through in a way that’s more transparent and inclusive.”

Before this announcement, Facebook vetted and handpicked its partners; and not many people knew how the process worked. But now every developer, by virtue of submitting their app to will be a part of the new platform.

A few restrictions -- Apps and sites that are bandwidth intensive aren’t welcomed. No skype kind VoIP. No DropBox kind of file transfer. No high resolution photos like Flickr. No YouTube like video platform. will not display video files and will also truncate resources larger than 1 MB.

At present is available in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Ghana, and India. More than a billion people in India don’t have access to the internet and this is a mouth watering opportunity that Zuckerberg and team cannot afford to pass. He recently had public discussions about this (and many other topics) on his Facebook page.

Facebook has invited developers to optimize their apps that are in communication, education, employment, finance, government, health, news, reference, sports, weather, women and maternal health. As of now, users don't have to be signed up via Facebook to access content on

But will this be enough? Do you think this is a step in a right direction? Is some access better than no access? How do we go from ‘some access’ to ‘access’, in order for the internet to be truly inclusive? These are some of the questions that organizations, government and netizens should keep on exploring.