Mumbai: As a debate rages on about the Net Neutrality and the role of Facebook's Internet.Org platform, the social networking giant's Indian partner for this programme Reliance Communications (RCOM) Wednesday said it has brought on board one million Indians to experience internet.
"We piloted this for six months in seven circles. And in six months, I am happy to share with you, we brought nearly one million people to come on the interent and experience the internet," Reliance Communications' Consumer Business CEO Gurdeep Singh told the company shareholders here.
RCOM is Facebook's partner in India for Internet.Org, which is now being renamed as Free Basics. The partnership was announced in February this year.
The global programme claims to be working towards getting people in developing countries like India on to the internet for free through tie-ups with telcom operators.
However, concerns have been raised in some quarters about this programme being against the spirit of Net Neutrality --- the ability to access a website or internet service of choice. Those registering for the programme can access only select websites.
Speaking at RCOM's Annual General Meeting here, Singh said the websites chosen as part of the programme are specially created ones which are light on data consumption.
"These are internet sites which are not normal sites. These are reduced, truncated, low on bandwidth consumption, almost negligible on the bandwidth consumption, (which is) as good as providing information offline," he said.
"Facebook got in the technology, we brought in the distribution to go to market," he said, adding that the tie-up is very close to the heart of RCOM Chairman Anil Ambani.
"Be it education, health, jobs, financial inclusion, travel...Anything you can think of will help improve life of an individual was brought under this platform working with like-minded partners," he said.
Singh added that 30 percent of its over 100 million mobile phone subscribers are on the internet at present, and over half of these access it on the faster 3G services.