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Facebook’s Free Basics, Helping just “One Dominant Player” In India: Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao

The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny

Making a strong pitch for more competition in offering internet services, Vodafone Group chief Vittorio Colao has spoken his mind on Facebook’s Free Basics, saying it was helping just “one dominant player” in India.

The social network’s zero-rated plan, in partnership with telecom operator Reliance Communications in India, offered free access to basic internet services through select partner websites.But soon, the programme ran into a wall of criticism in India as critics saw the product violating the principle of net neutrality, which states that the entire internet should be available to everyone on equal terms, be it content or speed.

Earlier this month, Facebook shut down the controversial programme after a Trai directive to this effect. Asked if zero-rating should be allowed, he said, “It depends on context and fairness of access. I think education for example… I don’t think anybody will object to that.”

Backing Net neutrality, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had barred operators from charging different rates for Internet access based on content, dealing a blow to Facebook’s controversial Free Basics and other such plans. The regulation implied that operators will have to charge the same price for data used, irrespective of website or app accessed by the user.



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