Facebook and Airtel launch Free Basics service in Nigeria


Facebook has launched the Free Basics service in Nigeria through Airtel Africa, marking the further expansion of the internet.org initiative across the continent.

Airtel has already pledged to launch Free Basics - which essentially provides free or zero-rated access to online services - in its 17 markets across Africa. However, that plan appears to have taken longer than expected, with the rollout in all markets originally scheduled for completion in March 2016.

Facebook said more than half of the 40 countries where Free Basics has been launched are in Africa.

In a post on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg noted that the service in Nigeria would include the Jobberman jobs site as well as other news and information services.

“Over the next few months, we'll be doing even more to connect developers with people who can use their apps - and partner with local companies to bring internet to people across Africa who don't have access to mobile networks,” he added.

The social network’s Free Basics service has stirred up a certain amount of controversy, in part because of the zero-rating aspect.

It has already been banned in India after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) outlawed subsidised data tariffs that offer low-cost or free access to a select number of online services.

The term “zero rating” refers to the practice that has been adopted by many operators globally of allowing certain web-based services to be accessed without incurring data costs or using up inclusive data allowances.
Source: Total Telecom 11 May 2016