Facebook announced today it aims to expand the services available on Internet.org by introducing an open programme for developers to create services.
The move to make Internet.org more transparent and inclusive comes just two weeks after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to defend the initiative, following a number of Indian firms withdrawing from a sponsored content arrangement and the country’s telecoms regulator saying that zero-rating access may violate the principles of net neutrality.
In a statement posted on its site, Facebook said the goal of the new Internet.org Platform is to work with as many content and app developers and entrepreneurs as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity. While it wants to give people free services so they can discover the wider internet, it said its aim is for them to ultimately become paying users of the internet.
Reiterating some of the points Zuckerberg made in his defence of free-access deals, it said at the core of its efforts are non-exclusive partnerships with mobile operators to offer free basic internet services.
The statement went on to say that the websites were designed to be simple and data efficient “so operators can offer these for free in an economically sustainable way. Websites do not pay to be included, and operators don’t charge developers for the data people use for their services”.
It explained that because the services have to be specially built, Facebook started by offering just a few and now plans to expand that with the launch of the platform, which will be free for any developer.
Developers joining, however, need to follow the three principles it has followed in building Facebook and Messenger for Internet.org:
1. Services should encourage the exploration of the broader internet wherever possible
2. To sustainably deliver free basic internet services, apps need to be built that use data very efficiently