This is a very simple and straight post that explains how Facebook’s Free Basics works in its current shape, how it exploits and manipulates the hell out of the user, and screws the competitors of Facebook and its partnering telecommunication company (Reliance).
How Free Basics Is Meant To Work In India
- Facebook has partnered with Reliance communications to bring Free Basics to India. Free Basics is an app that will deliver selected sites to users without billing them any data charges.
- Facebook will provide 40 sites like Wikipedia, weather sites, news sites, and not to forget, Facebook and its messenger.
- Only Reliance mobile users can get access to Free Basics. Such users will have to use Opera Mini or UC Browser to access the Free basics site (Internet.org) and download the app.
- A user can use the app to access the sites Facebook provides to Reliance Communications. Facebook does encourage website owners to submit their site to Free Basics, which the FB admins will review and may or may not approve.
FB will provide access to all approved websites for free.
This is how the scheme in its current shape is intended to work in India.
Here’s How Free Basics Will Make You Pay
- Only Reliance mobile users can access Free basics. You will have to switch from your current operator to Reliance, giving the company an unfair competitive advantage. The company will overnight transform from a regular player to a power broker.
- You can access any website with the Free Basics app. If it is not provided free to Reliance, you will have to pay data charges.
When you access a non-whiteboard website, the app will take you to a page that says you are now leaving the free zone and that you will be charged for browsing. The page will also offer you paid plans (which will benefit Reliance Communications).
If you choose to continue without purchasing a plan, be ready to fork out thousands of bucks every month because telecom companies bill you exorbitantly for data consumption!
BTW, if you haven’t purchased a data plan yet, turn on “Data” in your Toolbox, access a few websites, and watch how your Internet bill multiplies and accelerates.
- Whenever you’re accessing Free Data, a small notice shows up at the top of the screen. The screw up is that all features of tools such as Facebook Messenger are not free. You have to pay for some and while working with these, you won’t notice or bother about the Free Data notification coming on or going off.
Result: mega bills.
- Free Basics will deliver a bouquet of sites that it prefers. Let’s take for example that FlipKart has partnered with Free Basics, while Amazon has not. The free Internet user will be forced to buy stuff from FlipKart. If Free Basics gets a wide audience, FlipKart will get a monopolistic edge over Amazon and therefore, its sellers may price their products slightly higher knowing fully well that many users have no other options.
In this sense, it kills the spirit of competitiveness which is so essential.
- The Internet is an open space that allows users to connect with each other, browse anything they wish, etc. This is what makes up the concept of net neutrality. The general rule is that Internet service providers should allow users access to all content and applications regardless of the source, without blocking any apps or websites (unless these are specifically blocked by the Government).
Free Basics violates this principle by keeping only access to FaceBook and its partners free.
- Do non-Internet users have Opera Mini or UC Browser installed on their Android phones? Most likely, no. They will have to buy a data pack to install either browser.
- Facebook will merely provide the free sites to Reliance Communications. In turn, Reliance will pay for the data downloaded from these sites. To make up its losses, Reliance may increase their data charges or do something else to recover their costs and boost profits. We’re living in a world where data charges are being slashed — but this trend may likely be reversed with the entry of Free Basics.
- Sites that want to get listed on Free Basics have to comply with Facebook’s guidelines. Plus, each site will be reviewed before approval. What’s stopping Facebook from rejecting a site that competes with its partners?
- Facebook is silent on whether Free Basics will contain ads in the future.
Netizens have heard of open source and love the concept because it syncs with the guiding principle of the Internet — Freedom.
Free Basics is like a closed source concept that exploits users and competitors. It misleads Indians by claiming to provide free and basic Internet services, spreading connectivity all over India, etc., while all it does is increase Facebook’s and its partners clout in the Indian Internet space.
Free Basics is not free. It will make you pay by restricting your choice and perhaps charging you a bomb for data (for non-whiteboard sites).
If it is allowed in India, all you can do is watch your Internet freedom and bills get compromised as the combined clout of Facebook and Reliance Communications increases.
Want something free? Breathe the air.
But pay for the Internet and snort out Free Basics out of your system.
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