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Reliance Communications teams up with Facebook to spread reach of the Internet

MUMBAI: Telecom major Reliance Communications has teamed up with online social network Facebook to launch internet.org services.

Reliance customers can enjoy access to sites through internet.org. There are no data charges. Initially the services are available in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Kerala, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

The aim is to reach across the country within three months.

Reliance customers in India can access these services in the Internet.org Android app, at www.internet.org, from the start screen of the Opera Mini mobile web browser, and using the Android app UC Browser for Internet.org. Most of the services will be available in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi.

Internet.org is now available in India, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia and Ghana.

In India free services on offer with Facebook include:

  • News: BBC News, Times of India, India Today, NDTV, BBC News, IBNLive, Aaj Tak, Amarujala.com, Daily Bhaskar, Maalai Malar, Maharashtra Times, Jagran, Newshunt, Manoramanews.com
  • Sports: ESPN Cricinfo
  • Careers and Jobs: TimesJobs, Babajob
  • Education and Knowledge: Wikipedia, wikiHow, Dictionary.com, Translator, Reuters Market Lite, Jagran Josh
  • Health and Social Welfare: Facts for Life (UNICEF), BabyCenter and Mama, Girl Effect (Nike Foundation), iLearn (UN Women), Malaria No More, Socialblood, AP Speaks
  • Search: Bing (from Microsoft)
  • Social: Facebook, Facebook Messenger
  • Utility: OLX, Astro, Cleartrip, AccuWeather.

In October last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg launched internet.org in India while on a visit to New Delhi.

Reliance and Facebook have worked for the past four months to come up with the service. Facebook’s role included handling the complex backend technology.

In a blog post Zuckerberg wrote, “We just launched Internet.org in India — giving people in six Indian states access to free basic internet services for health, education, jobs and communication. Over the last year we’ve rolled out Internet.org free basic services to countries with more than 150 million people total across Africa and Latin America. More than 6 million people are already connected to the internet who previously weren’t, and we’ve started hearing incredible stories about how the internet is changing lives and communities. But to continue connecting the world, we have to connect India.

“More than a billion people in India don’t have access to the internet. That means they can’t enjoy the same opportunities many of us take for granted, and the entire world is robbed of their ideas and creativity.

“Today’s announcement is just one step towards changing that. People on the Reliance network in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and Telangana will now have free data access to more than three dozen services.

“We still have a long way to go to connect India. But I’m optimistic that by getting free basic services into people’s hands, more change can follow pretty rapidly. One day, we will connect everyone, and the power of the internet will serve every community across India and the world. That day is coming.”

Reliance Communications CEO consumer business Gurdeep Singh said that the aim of the partnership is to increase Internet inclusion and encourage more Indians to go online. “This partnership will not only accelerate Internet penetration in India it will also open new socio-economic opportunities to users in fields like education, information and commerce. 1/4th of the global offline population is in India. For Internet penetration to grow we cannot rely on an organic process which is what has been happening so far”.

Internet.org VP Chris Daniels said that internet.org’s launch was a big step forward to make the Internet available to millions of people in the country.