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Facebook gives Pakistanis free internet access with new service

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday announced  free internet access to Pakistani citizens through its newly-launched service Internet.org.

The free internet service is currently available on Telenor network in the country.

Internet.org, provides connectivity to people in developing nations, to outside applications following a controversy over its limited set of online services.

In a message posted on his official account, Facebook CEO  Mark Zuckerberg  said, “Before today, only ~15% of Pakistan’s 180+ million people had access to the internet. Now, people will be able to access valuable services for free, including resources for health, jobs, local news and communication.

More than 1 billion people around the world now have the ability to use free basic services through Internet.org, and we’ve seen these bring a lot of value to people in the 11 countries where we’ve launched.”

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Internet.org would operate as a free platform “so anyone can build free basic services,” but that the full Internet would not be included.

“Our vision is to give people more access to free services over time.”

Zuckerberg, in a video announcing the change earlier this week, said the goal of the program remains giving people a limited number of basic services for health, education and jobs, for example, arguing this is not in conflict with net neutrality principles.

“Net neutrality should not prevent access. We need both,” he said.

Hold on! All is not free

Zuckerberg  noted that access is offered as a partnership with local mobile operators, which agreed to offer certain services for free with an option to get the full Internet with a paid subscription.

“It’s not sustainable to offer the whole Internet for free,” he said. “No operator could afford this.”

According to AFP, Facebook said the platform however would be opened to any developer who met certain guidelines. Any apps must use data “very efficiently,” and should not include data-intensive services that use considerable bandwidth such as video or high-resolution photos.

The services will be free for any participating developer, Facebook said.

The Times of India and earlier this month spearheaded a campaign to get news publishers to withdraw from Internet.org, saying the closed set of services was in conflict with the notion of net neutrality.

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