Facebook has withdrawn Free Basics from India, three days after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ruled in favour of net neutrality, prohibiting discriminatory pricing of data services. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the social media giant said Free Basics was “no longer available to people in India”, The Economic Times reported on Thursday.
This development follows Reliance Communications’ decision to make the Free Basics platform a paid one. Although it did not comment on Facebook’s latest move, R-Com had said earlier that subscribers will have to pay applicable data charges to access certain websites or apps through the Free Basics platform. The company was the only distributor of Free Basics, previously marketed as internet.org, in India.
Following TRAI’s latest regulation on Monday, Free Basics cannot be offered in India in its present form. The regulator had said service providers cannot enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract that promotes discriminatory pricing of data services, adding that any telecom company found flouting the rule will be fined Rs 50,000 a day. TRAI will review these guidelines after two years. Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had expressed his disappointment with the regulation.