Facebook Inc has been running into some seemingly insurmountable obstacles regarding its plans to make internet accessible across the globe: Internet.org has been getting stumped in India of late, a country that has over a billion people with no internet services for education, communication and health whatsoever. Facebook claims that it has already connected 6 million people worldwide, in countries such as Panama and Indonesia since the start of its program “Free Basics” in 25 different countries.
Nevertheless, making Free Basics work in India has been quite a headache for Facebook, as it says that for the program to work a greater and profound understanding of demographics is needed. The Digital India Initiative started off to transform India into a digital empire but the efforts have so far hit a rut due to disinterest shown by the Indians.
Facebook initially offered its free internet program through the Indian cellphone carrier service Reliance Communications, and further on the service was offered in 7 states in India, but due to bad connections relative to other carrier services in India, people did not hug Facebook’s offer with open arms.
In reality, what is understood is that most people in India haven’t even heard of Freenet, which is Reliance’s Internet.org, therefore it is all the more convenient to pin the reasons for failure on Reliance Communications’ provision of bad connections. Essentially, in India the job of educating people on which carrier service to use is left in the hands of card sellers, that are bought by rival carrier services. Funny enough, the adoption of services by word of mouth is a pretty powerful phenomenon in India.
The project for offering internet access across the globe that Mark Zuckerberg’s been crusading is quite an altruistic one, but given the complexity and scale of the program he should know better that it is not achievable. Billions of people who do not have food to eat can be least bothered with an internet connection.