Facebook shuts down Free Basics in India

After TRAI’s decision on discriminatory pricing, Facebook has announced that it has scrapped its controversial Free Basics initiative from India. Recently TRAI issued regulations in favour of net neutrality ruling against differential pricing and also said that a per day penalty of Rs 50,000 will be levied for discriminatory tariffs charged by service providers, subject to a maximum of Rs 50 lakh.

Facebook had met with severe criticism for its programme, which aimed at providing basic Internet access to people in partnership with telecom operators. Facebook had met a backlash in India from “net neutrality” advocates, who say that because Free Basics only allows access to selected websites it violates the principle that the entire Internet should be available to everyone on equal terms.

The service was available in India with Reliance Communications. In December, RCom put the service on hold following a Telecom Regulator Authority of India’s directive to that effect.

Reacting to Monday’s verdict, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said “Connecting India is an important goal we won’t give up on, because more than a billion people in India don’t have access to the Internet.” Despite its shutdown in India, Facebook’s Free Basics project will continue to operate in around 30 countries across the world.