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Zheng, H. Free Basics. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 09 December 2023).
Zheng H. Free Basics. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 09, 2023.
Zheng, Handwiki. "Free Basics" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 09, 2023).
Zheng, H.(2022, November 24). Free Basics. In Encyclopedia.
Zheng, Handwiki. "Free Basics." Encyclopedia. Web. 24 November, 2022.
Free Basics
Edit is a partnership between social networking services company Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that plans to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries by increasing efficiency, and facilitating the development of new business models around the provision of Internet access. The app delivering these services was renamed Free Basics in September 2015. As of November 2016, 40 million people are using It has been criticized for violating net neutrality, and by handpicking internet services that are included, for discriminating against companies not in the list, including Facebook's rivals. In February 2016, regulators banned the Free Basics service in India based on "Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations". The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) accused Facebook of failing to pass on the four questions in the regulator's consultation paper and also blocking access to TRAI's designated email for feedback on Free Basics. On February 11, 2016, Facebook withdrew the Free Basics platform from India.

social networking qualcomm less developed countries

1. History

Mobile with Free Basics zero rating plan showing Spanish Wikipedia main page in Mexico. was launched on August 20, 2013.[1][2][3] At the time of launch, Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a ten-page whitepaper he had written elaborating on the vision that asserts that connectivity is a "human right".[4] In the paper, he wrote that was a further step in the direction of Facebook's past initiatives, such as Facebook Zero, to improve Internet access for people around the world.

During TechCrunch Disrupt on September 11, 2013 Zuckerberg elaborated further on his vision.[5] TechCrunch blog compared with Google's Project Loon.[1] Zuckerberg also released a video on September 30, 2013 explaining's goal of making the Internet 100 times more affordable.[6]

On February 24, 2014, shortly before a keynote presentation by Zuckerberg at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 24, 2014, unveiled several new projects: an education partnership called SocialEDU with Nokia and local carrier AirTel, edX, and the government in Rwanda; a project with Unilever in India; and a new Innovation Lab with Ericsson in its Menlo Park HQ.[7] In the presentation, Zuckerberg says that Facebook's recent acquisition of mobile messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion was closely related to the vision.[8][9][10]

In May 2015, Facebook announced the Platform, an open program for developers to easily create services that integrate with Participating websites must meet three criteria: (1) Explore the entire internet (so as to give users a taste of the wider Internet and therefore help them see the value of the Internet), (2) Efficiency of data use (so that it would be economical for carriers to allow free access to the websites), and (3) Technical specifications: optimized for browsing on a wide range of devices including smartphones and less sophisticated mobile devices, and should not be dependent on JavaScript or HTTPS.[11] This was seen by commentators as a response to concerns raised over net neutrality.[12]

1.1. Satellite Development

On March 27, 2014, Facebook announced a connectivity lab as part of the initiative, with the goal of bringing the Internet to everybody via drones, acquired from the company Ascenta.[13][14][15][16] It is also communicated by the Connectivity Lab, that, besides using drones, low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites would also be part of the project, for establishing internet connectivity in other areas. All three systems would rely on free space optics (FSO). In free space optics, the signal is sent in a compact bundle of infrared light[17]

At Mobile World Congress March 2015, Mark Zuckerberg says that the initiative was "willing to work" with Project Loon (Google's project to use high-altitude balloons to provide people cheaper Internet access) but emphasizes that in his view, the real work is in partnering with existing telecommunications companies to improve access and reduce costs for people already within range of a network, which he estimates at over 80% of the population.[18][19]

In October 2015, Facebook and Eutelsat leased the entire Ka-band capacity (36 spot beams with a total throughput of 18 Gbit/s) on the planned Amos-6 satellite to provide access to parts of Africa[20][21] Amos-6 was intended to be launched on Flight 29 of a SpaceX Falcon 9 to geosynchronous transfer orbit on 3 September 2016. However, on 1 September 2016, during the run-up to a static fire test, there was an anomaly on the launch pad resulting in a fire and the loss of the vehicle and its payload, Amos-6. There were no injuries.[22]

In January 2016, Google had exited Facebook's Free Basics platform in Zambia. They were included in the initial trial of this project, which was first launched in Zambia.[23]

1.2. Net Neutrality Criticism in India

The first summit was held on 9 October 2014 in New Delhi, India. The primary objective of this summit was to bring together experts, officials and industry leaders to focus on ways to deliver more Internet services for people in languages other than English. Zuckerberg also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to talk about how Facebook and the Indian government can collaborate on[24][25][26][27]

In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an article for Hindustan Times stating that and net neutrality can co-exist and will never differentiate between services.[28] His claims were contested by many response articles, including one published in the Hindustan Times.[29][30] In May 2015, the Platform, open to participation by any developers meeting specified guidelines, was announced. Some commentators viewed this announcement as a response to the net neutrality concerns expressed.[12] The PMO has expressed displeasure at Facebook's reaction to and handling of TRAI's consultation paper, calling it a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll.[31]

An Indian journalist, in his reply to Mark Zuckerberg's article defending in India, criticized as "being just a Facebook proxy targeting India's poor" as it provides restricted Internet access to Reliance Telecom's subscribers in India.[29] Until April 2015, users could access (for free) only a few websites, and Facebook's role as gatekeeper in determining what websites were in that list was criticised for violating net neutrality. In May 2015, Facebook announced that the Free Basics Platform would be opened to websites that met its criteria.[12][32]

In April 2015, some Indian startups start pulling out of to protect net neutrality.[33][34][35] The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in January 2016 criticized Facebook for its misleading commercials and Astroturfing the Free Basics campaign. TRAI accused Facebook of failing to pass on the four questions in the regulator's consultation paper and also blocking access to TRAI's designated email for feedback on Free Basics.[36][37] By February 2016, TRAI banned the Free Basics service in India based on "Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016" notification.[38] On February 11, 2016 Facebook withdrew the Free Basics platform from India.[39]

2. Participants

Below is a selective history of launch dates and participating mobile networks:

  • July 2014: Zambia[40]
  • October 2014: Tanzania[41]
  • November 2014: Kenya[42]
  • January 2015: Colombia[43]
  • January 2015: Ghana, with Airtel[44]
  • 10 February 2015: India with Reliance Communications.[45] Service permanently banned by TRAI one year later.[38]
  • 18 March 2015: Philippines with Smart Communications[46]
  • 31 March 2015: Guatemala with Tigo[47]
  • 20 April 2015: Indonesia with Indosat[48]
  • 10 May 2015: Bangladesh with Robi[49]
  • 13 May 2015: Malawi with TNM and Airtel[50]
  • 28 May 2015 and 26 March 2016: Pakistan with Telenor Pakistan[51][52] and Zong Pakistan respectively.[53][54][55]
  • 5 June 2015: Senegal with Tigo[56]
  • 19 June 2015: Bolivia with VIVA[57][58]
  • 22 June 2015 : Angola with Movicel[59][60]
  • 1 July 2015 : South Africa with Cell C[59][60]
  • 18 October 2015 : Egypt with Etisalat - Service terminated by the NTRA. [61]
  • 16 December 2015: Iraq with Korek Telecom[62]
  • 10 May 2016: Nigeria with Airtel Africa[63]
  • 2 June 2016: Madagascar with Bip[63]
  • June 2016: Myanmar with Myanma Posts and Telecommunications
  • March 2017: Algeria with Ooredoo.
  • April 2017: Belarus with life:)[64][65]

3. Available Websites

The following websites are accessible via the service, although not all are available in certain countries:

  • 1doc3[66]
  • Accuweather
  • BabyCenter[66]
  • BeSmart
  • Bing Search
  • Chispa Rural (Guatemala)
  • ESPN
  • Facebook
  • HIV360
  • IamPurple
  • LoveWords
  • Maya[66]
  • Open School
  • SmartBusiness[66]
  • SmartChoices
  • SmartSex
  • UrduPoint
  • Hahaha Funny Jokes[66]
  • Wattpad
  • wikiHow
  • Wikipedia
  • vutuv
  • Your.MD[67]

4. Reception

4.1. Expanding Internet Access

An article published on Datamation in August 2013 discussed in relation to past accessibility initiatives by Facebook and Google such as Facebook Zero, Google Free Zone, and Project Loon.[68] and Project Loon have been described as being engaged in an Internet space race.[69][70][71] There have also been technical debates about the relative feasibility and value of using balloons (as championed by Project Loon) instead of drones,[69] with Mark Zuckerberg favoring drones.[72]

In December 2013, David Talbot wrote a detailed article for Technology Review titled Facebook's Two Faces: Facebook and Google Aim to Fix Global Connectivity, but for Whom? about and other Internet accessibility initiatives.[73]

4.2. User Experience Research

In 2015, researchers evaluating how Facebook Zero shapes information and communication technologies (ICT)[74][75] usage in the developing world found that 11% of Indonesians who said they used Facebook also said they did not use the Internet. 65% of Nigerians, and 61% of Indonesians agree with the statement that "Facebook is the Internet" compared with only 5% in the US.[76]


  1. Constine, Josh (August 20, 2013). "Facebook And 6 Phone Companies Launch To Bring Affordable Access To Everyone". Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  2. Farr, Christina (August 20, 2013). "Mark Zuckerberg and Malay Bhayani launches to connect ‘the next 5 billion’". VentureBeat. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  3. Schroeder, Stan (August 21, 2013). "Zuckerberg Wants to Bring the Whole Planet Internet Access". Mashable. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  4. Zuckerberg, Mark (August 20, 2013). "Is Connectivity a Human Right?". Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  5. Constine, Josh (September 11, 2013). "Zuckerberg’s Manifest Destiny: Connecting The 5 Billion People Without Internet". Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  6. Kerr, Dara (September 30, 2013). "Zuckerberg: Let's make the Internet 100x more affordable: Working with his partners, Facebook's CEO outlines what needs to be done to drop the cost of Web access worldwide.". CNet. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
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  8. Lunden, Ingrid (February 24, 2014). "WhatsApp Is Actually Worth More Than $19B, Says Facebook’s Zuckerberg, And It Was That Sealed The Deal". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
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  15. Constine, Josh (March 27, 2014). "Facebook Joins Google In The Hunt For The Future". TechCrunch. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
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  19. Ramli, David (March 3, 2015). "Mark Zuckerberg shuns Google's Project Loon to focus on 'real work'". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  20. Kelly, Heather (5 October 2015). "Facebook to beam free internet to Africa with satellites". 
  21. Peter B. de Selding (6 October 2015). "Facebook, Eutelsat To Pay Spacecom $95M for Ka-band Lease". Spacenews. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  22. Malik, Tariq (1 September 2016). "Launchpad Explosion Destroys SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket, Satellite in Florida". Archived from the original on 2 September 2016. 
  23. Kim Arora (20 January 2016). "Google bids adieu to Facebook's Free Basics in Zambia". Times of India. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  24. "Mark Zuckerberg to meet PM Narendra Modi tomorrow". Deccan Chronicle (via PTI). October 9, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
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  27. "Mark Zuckerberg addresses the first summit in New Delhi; to meet PM Modi on October 10". October 9, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  28. Zuckerberg, Mark (April 17, 2015). "Mark Zuckerberg to HT: Net neutrality and universal connectivity must co-exist". Hindustan Times. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  29. Murthy, Mahesh (April 17, 2015). " is just a Facebook proxy targeting India’s poor". FirstPost. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  30. coalition (April 17, 2015). "Dear Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is not, and should not be the internet". Hindustan Times. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  31. Anandita Singh Mankotia (February 4, 2016). "PMO displeased with Facebook's reaction to Trai's consultation paper". The Economic Times. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  32. "Free Basics - FAQ - Documentation - Facebook for Developers" (in en-US). 
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  36. Tech Desk (21 January 2016). "Facebook ‘I support Free Basics’ campaign is wholly misplaced, says TRAI". Indian Express. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  37. Simon Sharwood (21 January 2016). "India just about accuses Facebook of faking Free Basics fandom". The Register. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
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  41. David Cohen (29 October 2014). " App Launches in Tanzania". Adweek. 
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  43. Owen Williams (14 January 2015). "Facebook’s app launches in Colombia". The Next Web. 
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  64. "life:) открыл бесплатный доступ к TUT.BY и Facebook" (in ru). 2017-04-13. 
  65. "life:) открывает бесплатный доступ к Facebook и TUT.BY для своих абонентов" (in ru). 2017-04-13. 
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