Facebook’s Internet for All Is a Tough Sell in India

Monday, October 26, 2015

If Mark Zuckerberg hopes to deliver on his vision of bringing the Internet to the four billion people who lack it, the Facebook chief will first need to make his plan more appealing to salesmen like Shoaib Khan.

Mr. Khan’s perfume and cellphone shop in one of this city’s many slums recently displayed a large blue banner advertising Mr. Zuckerberg’s project, called Internet.org, in the back. Another sign forFacebook’s free package of Internet services— offered in India through the cellphone carrier Reliance Communications — was posted prominently in front.

But when a reporter asked Mr. Khan about his experience with Internet.org, he had no idea what it was. After the program was explained to him, he quickly dismissed it.

“The Reliance connection is very patchy,” Mr. Khan said, shaking his head. “I would really have to sell the customer on it.”

Facebook’s rocky experience since it brought Internet.org to India in February shows that good intentions and technological savvy are not enough to achieve a noble goal like universal Internet access

The skepticism of phone sellers like Mr. Khan and the weaknesses of Facebook’s Indian partner are just two of the problems that have bedeviled Mr. Zuckerberg’s project so far.

Source: The New York Times (link opens in a new window)