The world’s largest social networking company, Facebook, on Thursday said it has shut down its Free Basics programme that aimed to provide free internet access to people who could not afford to pay for data.
“Free Basics is no longer available to people in India,” a spokesperson for Facebook said in an emailed statement.
Free Basics is a joint service by Facebook in partnership with Reliance Communications, the country’s fourth biggest telecommunications company by number of users, that offered free services / websites without charging a fee for data.
Following the announcement, shares of Reliance Communications fell 7.28% to trade at Rs 52.20 per stock, when the broader S&P BSE Sensex was down 3.3%.
The move comes after Trai earlier this week ordered that no service provider shall enter into any kind of pact with any person, or organisation, “that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content,” or offer data on “differential pricing” plans. “On the internet all content should be treated equal and there should be no discriminatory pricing,” Ram Sewak Sharma, chairman, Trai, said while releasing the authority’s order on the issue.