Half of all “Free Basics” users buy a data plan from their mobile service provider within 30 days of trying Facebook’s free service, said Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s manager for product partnerships for Middle East and Africa. That is testimony to the effectiveness and “goodness” of Free Basics, as a way of introducing new users to use of the Internet, and creating new subscribers for mobile operators.
Mobile operators receive no compensation from Facebook or Internet.org, and give away mobile Internet access to Free Basics users.
The perceived–and apparently real–upside is the chance to acquaint new users to the value of mobile Internet access and key Internet apps themselves.
Free Basics is offered in 37 countries, though Egypt and India have banned the service.
Some 25 million people have used the service, with six million users added since January of 2016.
If the conversion rates everywhere were to reach levels in the Middle East and Africa, potentially 12 million new mobile Internet customers would have been added in developing nations since Free Basics launched.
But there is far to go. Free Basics now is available to 1.67 percent of the potential population of the target nations representing around 1.4 billion people.