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Facebook Renames Internet.org As Free Basic, Rolls Out 60 New Free Services

Repositioning its internet.org initiative as a larger umbrella to service the needs of 4.4 billion unconnected people in the world, Facebook has rolled out 60 new free services on the platform.

It also announced a new name for the internet.org mobile website and app – Free Basic. The website and app will be a part of the larger platform that connects more than one billion people who have access to Internet.org’s free basic services across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“We want people to see internet.org the way we see it – as a digital literacy tool and not the destination. The objective is to introduce people to the internet for them to taste the value therein and migrate to paid plans if they deem fit” says Chris Daniels, vice president, internet.org.

Beginning today, users will now be able to access over 60 new free services across 19 countries through the platform. “In India, Facebook is already working with 30-strong mission-aligned developers and entrepreneurs who have adapted their services specifically for the Internet.org Platform,” says Ime Archibong, strategic partnership director.

Says Yael Mahuire who heads the Facebook Connectivity Lab: “For places like India, there has to be a technology that can help a larger part of the country leapfrog from the 30-year old 2G ecosystem directly to 4G, to empower the unconnected and the underserved.”

As part of the connectivity research, Facebook is investing in variety of terrestrial and aerial technologies including high-altitude long enduring planes, satellites and lasers.

To tap into the unlicensed spectrum space in India, Facebook has launched community hotspots called ExPress Wifi in remote areas where users can buy internet packages for as much as Rs 10, going on to monthly ones.

The social networking major is open to roping in more telecom partners in India, in addition to the present partner Reliance, to roll out the free services to a larger user base.

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