Facebook’s Internet.org initiative has launched in Malawi, raising the number of people who can access its “100-plus free basic services” to 1 billion.
The African launch comes just days after it was introduced in Bangladesh by the operator Robi. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the service has brought over 9 million people “online for the first time”.
Malawi’s two operators, TNM and Airtel Malawi, are both providing access to Internet.org. This makes Malawi the eleventh country to offer the service, adding it to the ranks of Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, Tanzania and Zambia.
Having launched in 2014, the service has courted controversy over net neutrality. Concerns about zero-rated access are particularly high in India, which is Internet.org’s largest market. Several major Indian retailers have dropped support for the service, while regulator TRAI has suggested that it may contravene net neutrality principles. This may result in a government policy banning zero-rating.