Taking on Facebook’s ambitious ‘free internet’ plans, Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal has said the companies should do ‘philanthropy’ if they stop charging for mobile internet.
Facebook has launched an ‘internet.org’ initiative under which users can access internet free of charge for select websites if they come through a partner telecom operator.
Incidentally, Airtel Africa is one such partner for Facebook, while rival Reliance Communications has partnered Facebook in India for this initiative, which is based on assumption that bringing more people to the internet fold by offering them free service initially is good for the industry.
Mittal, who met Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg here at the Mobile World Congress, said that the social networking major is right in its thinking that such an initiative would expand the market, but telecom operators also need to get their revenues and charge for the services.
“I told him (Zuckerberg) that you are right that this (internet.org) expands the market. At the end, you must understand that we (telecom operators) need to charge you for something. SMSes have gone more or less, voice is going down and they (Facebook) recognise that,” Mittal said in a media interaction here.
“If you are going to make the data free, then let’s do completely philanthropic projects. Government must make spectrum free, there should be free network, but it is not happening,” the billionaire industrialist said, while adding that telecom companies were as such not making large money.