Robi, the third-largest mobile operator in Bangladesh, launched Internet.org, a Facebook-led initiative that allows free access to more than two dozen websites with information on health, news, jobs and e-government services.
Internet.org was first launched in Zambia, in mid-2014, and is now available in several emerging markets, although it has not been without controversy.
In India, numerous content partners abandoned participation in the service – which ‘zero rates’ data when accessing certain websites – apparently on the grounds it violated net neutrality principles.
In response to those concerns, Facebook recently announced a new and ‘open’ Internet.org platform.
Facebook said the goal was to work with as many content and app developers and entrepreneurs as possible to extend benefits of connectivity. While it wants to give people free services so they can discover the wider internet, the ultimate aim was for them to become paying mobile data users.
Reiterating points CEO Mark Zuckerberg made previously in his defence of free-access deals, the platform statement said Facebook was seeking non-exclusive partnerships with mobile operators.
Robi, according to figures from GSMA Intelligence, had 26.3 million connections at the end of March, placing it third behind Grameenphone (52.3 million) and Bangalink (32 million).