Facebook's 'Free Basics' service shut down in Egypt

Dec 31, 2015, 17:49 IST | Agencies

Cairo: Social networking giant Facebook's free basics initiative service that provides limited free Internet access was suspended in Egypt after a permit required from the government was not renewed.

According to Reuters, telecom carrier Etisalat Egypt had only been granted a permit to offer the service for two months and the service was suspended after it expired.

The news comes the week after India’s telecom regulator TRAI ordered the suspension of Free Basics as it prepares to hold public hearings on net neutrality.

Facebook's partner in Egypt, telecom carrier Etisalat Egypt, began providing Free Basics service two months ago, and Facebook says more than 3 million people in Egypt have signed up. Of those 3 million, Facebook says 1 million received access to the internet for the very first time.

Facebook confirmed the shut down in Egypt to the Associated Press, stating "we’re disappointed that Free Basics will no longer be available in Egypt. More than 1 million people who were previously unconnected had been using the Internet because of these efforts."

Meanwhile, in India, the premier Indian Institute Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), have criticised the social networking giant Facebook's free basics initiative labelling it as "flawed" and "misleading".

The service was suspended in India last week.

The service, called Free Basics, is part of Facebook's Internet.org initiative that aims to bring internet access to developing nations.

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