Facebook admits defeat and shuts down Free Basics in India

Facebook admits defeat and shuts down Free Basics in India
Credit: Facebook

After losing the battle to run its zero-rating Free Basics service in India, Facebook has decided to shut it down in the country altogether after roughly a year in operation.

Government agencies agencies including the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) spent several months over the past year trying to assume a stance on net neutrality principles. While it was doing so, the TRAI ordered mobile carrier Reliance to block Free Basics last December. Facebook reportedly spent over $44 million on an ad campaign to garner citizens’ support for the service.

Earlier this week, the TRAI banned differential pricing for data in the country, effectively deeming Free Basics illegal. Facebook has now acknowledged that the final nail has sealed the coffin shut. A spokesperson told TNW today, “Free Basics is no longer available to people in India.”

The news comes a day after Facebook board member and reputed VC Marc Andreessen made a misguided remark on Twitter about India’s decision to block services like Free Basics.

Free Basics isn’t completely dead: it’s still operational in more than 30 other countries across the globe. However, the TRAI’s ban in an effort to uphold net neutrality principles, along with Facebook’s decision to pull the plug on its zero-rating service today may well have a ripple effect on Free Basics’ future around the world.

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