Internet.org – How Free Internet Access will Empower Our Nation
To say Internet is the future, would be an understatement. Our world is rapidly going digital with the ever fine and meaningful thread of ‘Internet’ running through all things. We have seen smartphones, Smart Watches, Smart bulbs, Smart Appliances and several other IoT devices grow and widely adopted in relatively small span of time. But in India, a country where more people access web from their mobile phones, internet is still not readily available to all.
It’s basically an Initiative, launched in India in association with Reliance Communication, which allows users to access 33 popular websites for free, without paying any data charges. These sites have been so chosen, to be light on network and help users establish an identity on internet.
Apart from Facebook, other founding members for Internet.org include Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung. At India launch, Facebook CEO Mark Zukerberg said, “The biggest barrier is social and cultural acceptance. This barrier is bigger than the known infrastructural and economic barriers.”
In its bid to connect the entire world, Facebook has successfully added several million people in several countries including Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Columbia, Ghana and India.
What types of sites are included and who can access them?
Besides facebook, 33 sites include News portals, like BBC News, IBNLive, Times of India, some educational services such as Wikipedia, Translator, wikiHow, sports websites, Health and welfare services such as BabyCentre, iLearn, Socialblood and some government social awareness program portals.
Only Reliance customers in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Chennai, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, or Kerala can access these free sites as of now. Reliance plans on expanding this service across India very soon.
All reliance customers can access Internet.org from as website from their mobile phones or via Android Internet.org App. You can log on to www.internet.org or call toll free 1800 300 25353 to activate. Whenever you are consuming free content, you will see Free Data label on top.
How Internet.org can benefit India?
Internet.org is not just about free internet access for the underprivileged masses. The initiative, carried forward by nexus between Facebook and several telecom and Mobile companies which aims at making internet cheaper, accessible and to put a mobile phone in every hand.
In India this will be a major challenge as 10 to 15 percent population is not in range of 2G or 3G networks. Besides social diversity and multitude of different local languages renders the task of taking internet to rural India even more challenging.
This also makes this initiative immensely important. There are over a billion people in India who don’t have access to Internet. Even if these masses have access to Facebook, it will help everyone remain updated with present times.
Cognizant masses will mean better productivity, better development and better opportunities for all. Traders from small towns can reach massive audience, people can know and take advantage of welfare schemes.
Children can better educate themselves and find answers to all questions that spring in their head. Even without putting any effort, people connected with the web will come across more opportunities. Over the period of time Internet.org include more categories of websites including entertainment, shopping portals, etc to improve engagement.
Internet.org is one of the most important and useful step taken by Reliance Communications and Facebook. It act as motivation tool for masses to open up to internet and overcome the “cultural barrier”. This initiative is meaningful and relevant in India where huge population is still not benefiting from internet access. Internet.org is in nascent stages and if it is gradually improved, it can potentially play a vital role in Internet revolution in India.