Facebook’s Free Basics service shut down in Egypt

Posted by

Mark Zuckerberg, the man behind Internet.org and a vision for a free internet

Free Basics, the free internet service being promoted by Facebook as part of its Internet.org initiative was recently shut down in Egypt.

According to a report from AFP, Facebook hopes that it will be able to resolve the situation and restore the service which has only been active in Egypt for two months after it was introduced through Etisalat Egypt. The service had reportedly introduced more than 1 million previously unconnected people to the internet and was being accessed by 3 million users.

Egypt becomes the second country to block the service after India made the move as part of a response to concerns raised around Free Basics’ net neutrality violations. Etisalat Egypt, Facebook, and Egyptian officials haven’t mentioned the reason behind the shutdown in Egypt but there has been a lot of speculation that the country is also concerned about the same net neutrality violations.

There is a chance that Free Service will be reactivated in both India and Egypt as the regulators for these countries are said to be reviewing the impact the service will have on internet use.


Free Basics has been launched in 37 countries worldwide, with 18 of those being in Africa. It is set to be launched in Zimbabwe this month, with the Internet.org team currently engaging with proprietors of internet properties that want to have their platforms zero rated on Free Basics. The service hasn’t been met with any resistance in Zimbabwe.

POTRAZ, the local telecoms regulator hasn’t been entirely active about net neutrality violations, something that has been displayed by the green light shown to other zero-rated sites as well as bundled services for Facebook, WhatsApp, Opera Mini and Twitter which offer differential pricing to parts of the internet.

At the same time, Internet.org’s presence in Zimbabwe also shows that POTRAZ has already approved the introduction of Free Basics to Zimbabweans. This logic is likely driven by the arguments for the service that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and proponent for Internet.org, has been using as a rebuttal against the loud voices against net neutrality violations.

Image credit: USA Today


  1. Tapiwa✓ says:

    The service had reportedly introduced more than 1 million previously unconnected people to the internet

    Nope, they absolutely were not connected to the Internet – just to Facebook and Wikipedia and a couple of other sites. That’s not the same thing as the internet, call it facebooknet to avoid the confusion (obviously intended by Facebook)

    1. tinm@n says:

      Couldnt have put it better myself!

      It’s not welcome in Zim too and its definitely not open or “free”

      @TechZim, your headline is misleading “Facebook’s Free Basics service shut down Egypt”

      1. Nigel Gambanga says:

        @Tinman thanks for calling that one out 🙂 It was a mistake in the headline there. It’s since been fixed.

  2. Kudzai says:

    Looking forward to shutting it down here too 🙂

  3. Raj says:

    This is a bad news to hear as earlier service was helpful for every economies to got attached to the social internet hub.But a great information is given in the article.Nice Info

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.