Mark Zuckerberg’s disappointment with India’s ban on Free Basics, and the internet’s reaction

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Mark Zuckerberg – image credit

Two days ago India’s telecommunications regulator took a stand against net neutrality violations in its country, banning services that have discriminatory tariffs and charges. This effectively put an end to Facebook’s case for its zero-rated Free Basics service.

While net neutrality proponents celebrated the victory, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook and the man pushing for Free Basics took to Facebook (where else, really) to express his disappointment and to let people know that his team wouldn’t be giving up on India or its mission to offer a free internet.

The post has attracted some interesting thoughts from people for and against Free Basics and it’s worth noting that these are essentially the same points that Zimbabweans on either side of the net neutrality aisle have been raising. All this is happening as Free Basics is set for a launch in this month.

It remains to be seen whether there will be some form of activism triggered locally to prompt our own regulator, POTRAZ, to act on net neutrality or if Free Basics, like other zero-rated services, will just be adopted silently.


In the meantime, you can read what Zuck has to say in defense of his service.

Everyone in the world should have access to the internet.

That’s why we launched 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.

Today India’s telecom regulator decided to restrict programs that provide free access to data. This restricts one of‘s initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programs by other organizations that provide free access to data.

While we’re disappointed with today’s 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. has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet.

Our work with around the world has already improved many people’s lives. More than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through our different programs.

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.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India.


  1. Facebook is for dummys anyway says:

    shame, now Facebook cant use Facebook to generate advertising revenue directly for free to millions of Indians!

    1. Curious says:

      No ads on facebook lite used but they benefit from collection of user data

  2. Happy telone user says:

    At least the Indians can captain together for common good…. I can’t see that happening here

    1. Macd Chip says:

      The way Zimbo loves anything free!

  3. Macd Chip says:

    American ignorance!!

  4. theriskguy says:

    Big people with their big ideas for the poor & third world countries. All I can is they still have Rhodes’ mentality by providing access to inferior services to the native & then play a game called, “We will provide good services when they are CIVILISED.”

    And just to quote on colonial policies’ relevance: ‘There is no room for African (or third-world) development without the whiteman’s guidance. The native needs guidance & the whiteman knows what is in the best interests of the native.’

  5. G says:

    To many people the internet is Facebook so free basic reinforces that same scenario.

  6. Gift Gana says:

    The people targeted for Free Basics can’t afford the other available internet options. Facebook comes with a “free” product they can afford. It’s a win-win. So what’s really the problem?

    1. Mhukahuru says:

      Why would FB decide what they access? Why cant they decide for themselves? How will this affect small players?

    2. Mhukahuru says:

      I wrote extensively about the probelms of FB’s proposition on Free Basics, you can find out the real issues here:

      NB: I consider myself a Net Neutrality proponent/activist

  7. Mhukahuru says:

    I wrote an article about this Free Basics a while ago, you can have a read here:

    NB: I consider myself a Net Neutrality proponent/activist

  8. theriskguy says:

    @G I think there is a massive need to educate our people abt the internet – its harms & benefits – & then take them thru all stages of the tech (r)evolution

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