Zuckerberg: an unequal internet better than no internet – Telegraph.co.uk
“But net neutrality is not in conflict with working to get more people connected. These two principles – universal connectivity and net neutrality – can and must coexist.”
He added that Internet.org does not block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes. It is open for all mobile operators and Facebook is not stopping anyone from joining.
“Arguments about net neutrality shouldn’t be used to prevent the most disadvantaged people in society from gaining access or to deprive people of opportunity,” he said.
“Eliminating programs that bring more people online won’t increase social inclusion or close the digital divide. It will only deprive all of us of the ideas and contributions of the two thirds of the world who are not connected.”
When asked why Internet.org only provides access to a selection of services rather than the whole internet, Mr Zuckerberg explained that it is too expensive to make the whole internet free.
“Mobile operators spend tens of billions of dollars to support all of internet traffic. If it was all free they’d go out of business. But by offering some basic services, it’s still affordable for them and it’s valuable and free for everyone to use,” he said.
“We actually don’t choose the services by ourselves. We work with local governments and the mobile operators to identify local services in each country.”
This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about Facebook’s approach to providing connectivity.
A report by Quartz in February revealed that millions of Facebook users in developing countries do not realise that they are using the internet, suggesting that, in many people’s minds, the two are one and the same.
Quartz warned that, if large numbers of first-time adopters come online via Facebook’s proprietary network, rather than via the open web, their whole understanding the internet will be distorted.
Meanwhile, policymakers, businesses, startups, developers, nonprofits and publishers will need to adopt Facebook as their primary communication platform, and play by the company’s rules.
“If people stay on one service, it follows that content, advertisers, and associated services also will flow to that service, possibly to the exclusion of other venues,” the report said.
The Internet.org app is currently available in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Colombia and parts of India. However, Facebook plans to expand the service, with Mr Zuckerberg promising to make it available wherever people need to be connected.
As well as the app, the Internet.org partnership is also looking at providing internet access in places that are currently unconnected using solar-powered drones, which can beam down laser-guided internet signals from the sky.