Reliance Communications says one million Indians have experienced the Internet as part of the Free Basics program, which offers Reliance Communications customers access to selected mobile apps without the need to buy a mobile data plan.
“We piloted this for six months in seven circles,” said Reliance Communications’ Consumer Business CEO Gurdeep Singh, giving one million Indians Internet experiences.
Reliance Communications is Facebook’s partner in India for Internet.org’s Free Basics program.
Singh said 30 percent of its over 100 million mobile phone subscribers are on the Internet and over half of these access it on 3G networks.
As controversial as Free Basics is, in some quarters, the program is designed to acquaint first-time Internet users, who might not otherwise invest the money, experience the value of the Internet.
What mobile operators expect will happen is that some of those who sample the Internet will decide to buy such access, said Nirupesh Joshi, Akamai Technologies director, pre-sales and consulting, Asia Pacific and Japan.
Facebook says, more than one billion people have access to its free services in 19 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. And Free Basics offers 60 apps across those 19 countries.