Is Facebook’s Move To Partner With Local Wi-Fi Service Providers Part Of A Bigger Scheme?

By  |  February 28, 2019

Facebook has recently been partnering with local service providers in different parts of Africa in a move they say is to bring people online. The latest partnership is with Kenya’s BRCK, a Nairobi based communications hardware company.

The two firms (Facebook and BRCK) have jointly unveiled open sourcing of Magma, a software platform containing the required tools to deploy and extend LTe mobile networks in the not connected and less connected parts of the world. According to a report, it entails software powering the mobile packet core and network automation and management tools.

A source familiar with the matter confirms that is a Facebook-led initiative that aims to bring internet access to areas of the world that have no access and also provide a cheaper means to those who cannot afford.

However, a section of Africa believes that Facebook is plotting on a bigger plan first to ensure people across the continent have access to cheap internet then later surface with a broadcasting platform, once they succeed in bringing more people online.

The global giant launched ‘Express WIFI‘ which is a connectivity under then unveiled Free Basics , mobile app that gives users access to a small selection of data-light websites and services in developing markets.

In the ‘Free Basics’ it is written, “Free Basics by Facebook provides people with access to useful services on their mobile phones in markets where internet access may be less affordable. The websites are available for free without data charges, and include content on things like news, employment, health, education and local information. By introducing people to the benefits of the internet through these websites, we hope to bring more people online and help improve their lives.”

The ‘Free basics’ controversial app severally made news for the wrong reasons.Three months after its launch in India, the Facebook’s ‘free’ version of the internet got banned on grounds that it violates the tenets of net neutrality.

A report by Buzzfeed indicates that Facebook is not really giving ‘free internet’ via Free Basics, its actually the local internet service providers in the various nations who are providing the data subsidy. The local telecoms largely see ‘Free Basics’ as a way to be on top of their competitors

Reports further indicated that Facebook’s Free Basics program collects metadata about all user activities, not just the activities of users who are logged into Facebook.

Such queer and unclear moves by the giant social media platform raises eyebrows on whether Facebook’s attempt to ‘provide affordable internet’ is a genuine move. Experts say that Facebook could be deepening its popularity in the developing parts of the world in a bid to ensure it always remains on top of its competitors.

Ellery Biddle, advocacy director of Global Voices said, ” Facebook is building this little web that turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content. That’s digital colonialism.”

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