Facebook’s Internet.org mobile app is now available in Indonesia, allowing users to get free access to some specific websites and online services in the country. It's the second Asian market where the social networking giant has launched the app.
“We just launched Internet.org in Indonesia! It's one more step towards connecting the whole world,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted on his page. In February, Facebook had launched the app in India, with a clutch of popular news, job search, classified and other information sites available at zero data cost for subscribers on the network of wireless carrier Reliance Communications, India’s fourth-largest telecom company.
Internet.org, led by Facebook, is an alliance of technology companies -- including Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Mediatek and Opera Software -- that are working to improve Internet access around the world. Other countries where the app has been launched include Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Colombia.
The effort’s critics, including campaigners of savetheinternet.in in India, say that Facebook is using Internet.org’s free access to influence how millions of first-time users view the Internet. Zuckerberg recently defended the work, arguing that some access is better than none in those regions around the world that are home to some of the planet’s poorest.
In India, faced with a public outcry over what has come to be known as “zero rating,” which involves carriers striking deals with website owners to allow free access to those sites, some participants have withdrawn from Internet.org, including media company NDTV, travel site Cleartrip.com and local-language content aggregator NewsHunt.
Critics of zero rating say that it violates the concept of “net neutrality,” which means treating all data on the Internet the same, whereas telecom carriers around the world, including India’s largest, Bharti Airtel, are pushing to get the rights to charge differential rates depending on what end users use their networks for. Making a Skype call, for instance, could cost more under such a plan.
In Indonesia, the free services on the Internet.org will be available on the network of the local carrier PT Indosat Tbk, Zuckerberg said in his post. The service will be available in both English and Indonesian, Indosat said in a news release announcing the launch of Internet.org on its network.