Zero-rated internet services: What is to be done?

Ariel Futter · Alison Gillwald

Facebook recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its non-profit initiative, Facebook claims to have set up this initiative to help those in developing countries who cannot afford to access the Internet with a fixed-line or mobile data. The application provides users with access to what they term “basic internet services,” including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and a suite of country specific websites related to education, finance, health, information, the marketplace, the news, and women’s issues. Though critics have argued that this does not constitute access to the ‘free and open’ internet it is a far more comprehensive offering than Facebook Zero, their stripped down application developed originally for feature phones and the application that introduced many mobile users to the internet. This provided access to the Facebook Zero app only, which did not have any video, image, or audio features.

By mid-2015 Facebook had partnered with more than twelve mobile operators in seventeen countries to provide free usage of its mobile application.

Download the policy paper.

Suggested citation

Futter, A., & Gillwald, A. (2016). Zero-rated internet services: What is to be done? Research ICT Africa.