Why we should support Facebook Free Basics?

I was appalled by the number of campaign against Facebook Free Basics, so I decided to investigate more. My observations below

70% of our population doesn’t have access to Internet

The number of Internet users in India is 354 Mn. Still a staggering 70% of the population don’t have access to Internet, this percentage is more in Rural India.

Imagine what Internet access would mean to Rural India — better quality of education, access to information & weather conditions, enhanced farming techniques, online counselling, and more.

Who will fix the digital divide?

The digital divide between the Urban & Rural India is widening — still a lot of ground to cover for providing Internet access to Rural India. Who will fix the digital divide?

Here are the possible options

  • Government to provide Internet for free: Yes, they can certainly enable this — but going by past records it might take another decade or two to make this happen. Are we ready to wait for so long?
  • Telecom players with a hefty fee: Those who can pay for their service, will get access. Not many in Rural India are going to pay a hefty fee. So this is not going to fix the problem
  • Private players: Private players with innovative business models. However, they will have an inherent business motive. After all, business is to make profit and gain competitive edge. So what’s wrong with companies like Facebook trying out differentiated pricing model.

The options confronting us as a nation

As a nation we have the following options

  • Sit back and watch: Wait for the government to come up with a big bang plan to enable internet for all. Yeah, let’s keep waiting for another 20 years or more.
  • Stop the innovators: Stop the innovators by raising issues & being show stoppers, without providing a solution. By doing so, we are going to stop internet privilege to millions of people in Rural India who badly need this.
  • Let’s rally behind doers: Encourage and provide support to doers like Facebook. Let’s move forward, let’s make things happen. As a nation, we need to start running rather than just scrolling. Let’s not become our own barrier for growth.

If you are still not convinced — put yourself in the shoes of the farmer. Ask yourself this question — no internet for another 20 years vs. free internet with restricted access?

I would choose free internet with restricted access rather than no internet. That’s why I support Facebook Free Basics.

I know some of us here might have differing viewpoints. Let’s have a meaningful dialogue without abusing each other :- )

Looking forward to hear from you!

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