Report: Facebook Wants to Expand 'Free Basics' Internet Service to US

...

Facebook is reportedly bringing its campaign to connect millions more people to the Web to its own backyard.

As The Washington Post reports, the social network is reportedly in talks with government officials and wireless carriers to bring its Free Basics mobile app to North America and serve the 37 million US residents who are not currently using the Internet. Facebook is reportedly looking for a way to roll out Free Basics without running afoul of net neutrality rules, which derailed the program in India.

Similar to global versions, the US Free Basics would target low-income and rural Americans who can't afford a reliable, high-speed Web connection at home or on their phone. The app allows folks to stretch their data plans by offering free Internet access to online resources like news, health information, and job offers.

Exactly which apps will be included have not been determined, though Facebook will likely be among them.

"While we have nothing to announce, Facebook's mission is to connect the world and we're always exploring ways to do that, including in the United States," the company told the Post.

Facebook did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

As the newspaper pointed out, a homegrown launch would mark "a major victory" for the social media giant. CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2013 announced plans to connect "the next 5 billion people"—a promise that developed into Free Basics (then called Internet.org). The program, which launched in 2015 in India, provided people with cheap smartphones and access to specific services that didn't eat into monthly data usage.

Indian officials, however, complained that Facebook was favoring its partners, rather than providing users with access to the entire Web and letting them pick and choose apps. Conceivably, if Facebook partnered with Weather App A over Weather App B, for example, Weather App A would reach a far wider audience and have a leg up over Weather App B, which ate up data.

Facebook later opened up Free Basics to anyone who wanted to participate, provided their apps were not too data-intensive, but it still pulled the service from India entirely amidst backlash.

Egypt in December turned Free Basics off because the government couldn't spy on citizens' browsing activities. It also raised piracy concerns in Angola, where folks found a way to share copyrighted content by uploading it to Wikimedia via Free Basics's network connection.

Zuck has long defended the service, saying it does not block or throttle other applications or create fast lanes—two things net neutrality advocates oppose. And Facebook is pushing ahead with its expansion plans: It is investing in mapping technology to find isolated settlements without Internet. The company has also been conducting test flights of a high-altitude drone that will beam signals to the most remote areas.

Categories
GAMES
0 Comment

Leave a Reply

Captcha image


RELATED BY

  • 5300c769af79e

    A company asked employees who own an iPhone 7 to resign

    The Nanyang Yongkang Medicine Company, located in the Henan province, sent out a memo to staff explicitly telling staff not to buy the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.Related: Read our review of the iPhone 7 here, and the iPhone 7 Plus here There’s always a chance extreme messages like this are fake, or have been misinterpreted, but the company has verified the document.
  • 5300c769af79e

    September's Android Security Update is Rolling Out With First Nougat Patch

    Google is pushing out September’s Android security update to Nexus devices today and has done so by already publishing both factory image and OTA.This is the first security patch for Nougat and that means new Android 7.
  • 5300c769af79e

    ZTE Will Pay Record Fine for Sales to Iran, North Korea

    After years of intentionally violating US export control laws by selling its products and services in Iran and North Korea, Chinese telecom company ZTE on Tuesday agreed to pay a record civil and criminal penalty of $1.The company obtained contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Iranian entities to build telecommunications networks in the country.
  • 5300c769af79e

    How to: Setup Google Play Family Library

    The Google Play Family Library that was announced this morning by Google is already going live some users, including us!This is how to setup the Google Play Family Library.