MWC 2016: Facebook Will Continue India Internet.org Initiatives Despite Free Basics Ruling

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has said that Facebook will continue its Internet.org efforts in India, despite one of the initiative’s programs – Free Basics – being banned by the country last month.

The comments came during Zuckerberg’s keynote speech at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

“It’s kind of crazy we’re sitting here in 2016 and still, four billion people in the world don’t have access to the Internet,” said Zuckerberg.

Internet.org

Zuckerberg, answering questions on stage from Wired senior writer Jessi Hempel, said that the Indian setback for Free Basics was “disappointing” for the mission Internet.org is trying to achieve.

“What we’ve learned is that every country is different,” said Zuckerberg. “But we have all these different programs for Internet.org.”

Zuckerberg noted Internet.org’s other programs for connecting people to the Internet, such as the Aquila solar-powered drone project, and Internet-beaming satellites, will hopefully be more successful in India as long as they pass regulations.

“In India we’ll focus on different programs. We want to work with all the operators there,” said Zuckerberg.

Mobile future

Zuckerberg has been a regular visitor to Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress over the last few years as mobile strategy becomes increasingly important to Facebook’s future. Earlier today, Facebook announced plans to partner with Intel, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom and others on a project to develop new telecoms and networking hardware.

Called the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), Facebook has joined global partners to help telcos connect to more customers, and increase the quality of connections already present.

“Every day, more people and devices around the world are coming online, and it’s becoming easier to share data-intensive experiences like video and virtual reality,” said Facebook’s top engineer Jay Parikh on a blog post.

“Scaling traditional telecom infrastructure to meet this global data challenge is not moving as fast as pople need. We know there isn’t a sole solution for this, and no single company can tackle the problem.”

Other partners in the TIP group include EE, Equinix, Africa Mobile Network, and Star Solutions.

Zuckerberg also made a surprise appearance at Samsung’s press conference on Sunday where he outlined Facebook’s vision for virtual reality.

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Ben Sullivan

Ben covers web and technology giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and their impact on the cloud computing industry, whilst also writing about data centre players and their increasing importance in Europe. He also covers future technologies such as drones, aerospace, science, and the effect of technology on the environment.

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