If we closely observe Facebook’s advertisements related with Internet.org (now Free Basics), we will observe a common theme: empowerment of rural communities via Internet. But the problem with Free Basics is that, it only allows access to few websites, which are under control of Facebook.
This makes it anti-net neutral, discriminatory, and biased.
Aircel has just launched a plan called Free Basic Internet (FBI), which can be an excellent alternative to Free Basics by Facebook, as it is net neutral, free from any discrimination and empowers all with free Internet.
Free Basic Internet (FBI) Can Change Everything
Under FBI, Aircel is providing low-speed Internet access for all, without charging anything. The speed of such access is capped at 64 KBPS, and the user can access the whole web without any discrimination. This offer has been launched only in Tamil Nadu and Chennai circles, with plans to launch it pan-India very soon (its because Tamil Nadu has largest customer base of Aircel)
As of now, only new, pre-paid customers are eligible for this plan, which has a FUP of 500 MB/month. As per Aircel, this new, revolutionary plan has been targeted to provide a basic access of Internet for all, thereby implementing a true ‘Digital India’ vision.
The new, pre-paid customer will need to buy a new SIM by paying Rs 144, and after 90 days of free usage, all he needs to do is recharge his pre-paid account with atleast Rs 150, per month. This recharge would be used for talk-time/SMS,as Internet access (with 64 KBPS speed) is free for lifetime.
This plan will work for both 2G and 3G coverage, and video streaming, online gaming and video calling are not possible, due to low bandwidth.
Makes perfect sense, considering that this plan is mainly for those users, who are yet to experience the magic of Internet, and can be effectively used for WhatsApp, Facebook, various job portals, agriculture based updates, forums, search engines and the entire web, without any discrimination for any particular website.
At an event in Delhi, Sunil Kuttan, Vice President of Marketing at Aircel, shared that their company will no doubt incur losses with this plan. However, for empowerment of the society, and for offering free, fair and neutral Internet, this is an excellent way to start. He also shared that they are expecting an abuse of this free service by 2-3% of users, but overall, it can be a game changer.
Besides Free Basic Internet for all, Aircel has also launched India’s first Cash on Delivery based recharge coupons, which is only available on Snapdeal; an exclusive partnership with NexgTV, for providing live TV stream, video and movies for a fixed yearly subscription charge of Rs 749 (Rs 2/day), and an exclusive partnership with mobile insurance providers for speedy insurance.
Regarding the Free Basic Internet, it would be really interesting to observe how their users respond to it; and whether this can be an alternative to Facebook’s discriminatory Internet.org (Free Basics) scheme.
Do you think that Free Basic Internet has the power to revolutionize Internet usage across rural areas of India?
Or is it just another marketing gimmick to attract more users into their platform? Should Facebook attempt such similar plan for empowering users with Internet?
Do share your thoughts by commenting right here!