Facebook and Airtel recently launched free internet basics in Nigeria and as expected many people are excited about the idea of free internet and skeptics wondering, what the catch is – as there most likely will be one. Especially as the programme was wholesomely rejected in India.
At first glance, it is a good package that offers solutions to the high cost of data in Nigeria, especially as reports indicate that when it comes to data costs, the poorest pay the most.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg started internet.org to help solve this problem. The idea was simple, provide free internet to developing countries so those who cannot afford internet can use simple services, including Facebook – connecting the next one billion – as he called it. You see why it is a good idea? I thought so too.
On the other hand it is just a ploy to get more people to use Facebook – which is not a bad idea. Except that critics have claimed that by so doing, they would make it impossible for local telecoms operators to compete and thrive, thereby allowing them monopolize the internet and gain total control over it and that will defeat the whole idea of net neutrality.
Okay things are getting feisty. But on yet another hand, this could just be propaganda by Telecoms operators to keep customers from using Facebook’s free internet services, so customers continue paying high costs for data.
In the end, there really should be no cause for alarm as regulatory bodies would be sure to do their jobs of checking malpractices and foul play in the telecoms sector. And hopefully, this serves as a wakeup call to telecoms operators and Internet service providers to reduce the cost of data services in countries like Nigeria.