Facebook’s Free Basics programme stopped in Egypt

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While India mulls over the idea of allowing Facebook to introduce Free Basics, the social media giant has suffered a big setback in Egypt, where it says a program that providing free basic internet services to over three million Egyptians has now been shut down.

Quoting a statement from the Facebook, Associated Press said that the social media platform planned to “resolve this situation soon.”

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“We’re disappointed that Free Basics will no longer be available in Egypt,” it said. “More than 1 million people who were previously unconnected had been using the Internet because of these efforts.”

It’s not clear why the Free Basics programme was halted. Neither Etisalat (the partnering mobile company) nor Egyptian officials could immediately be reached for comment.

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Facebook and other social media sites are extremely popular in Egypt, and were used to organize protests during the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

This development comes at a time when the Facebook is aggressively planning to enter India with its Free Basics programme. Its decision is ruthlessly being opposed by activists, who say that the Free Basics will kill net neutrality in India.

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India’s telecom regulator TRAI is currently seeking comments from the users on this matter. On Wednesday, the TRAI announced it was extending the deadline to 7 January as the original deadline was meant to end on 30 December.

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