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Won’t give up on providing free web access in India: Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO, Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO, Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has expressed disappointment with telecom regulator TRAI’s decision to back net neutrality saying this restricts programmes of his and other organisations that provide free access to data.

However, the 31-year-old said he will not give up on breaking down connectivity barriers in India which he described as an important goal for his company.

“Today India’s telecom regulator decided to restrict programmes that provide free access to data. This restricts one of Internet.org’s initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programmes by other organisations that provide free access to data,” said Zuckerberg, the chairman and chief executive of the social networking giant, in his reaction to the order issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) late last night.

“While we’re disappointed with the decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the Internet,” he said in a Facebook post.

Backing net neutrality, telecom watchdog TRAI yesterday barred operators from charging different rates for Internet access based on content, dealing a blow to Facebook’s controversial Free Basics and other such plans.

Facebook’s Free Basics plan came in for major criticism from experts who alleged that it curbed one’s freedom to access the Internet of their choice.

Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook’s work with Internet.org around the world has already improved many people’s lives.

“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.

“We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that’s why we’re so committed to connecting them,” he said.

More than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through Facebook’s different programmes.

“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India,” he said, adding that everyone in the world should have access to the Internet.

“That’s why we launched Internet.org with so many different initiatives-including extending networks through solar-powered planes, satellites and lasers, providing free data access through Free Basics, reducing data use through apps, and empowering local entrepreneurs through Express Wi-Fi,” Zuckerberg said.

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