Google has managed to connect more people in India to the Internet than its rival, Facebook. Reports indicate that since Google launched its free WIFI program on railway stations, it has now managed to get over 2 million Indians online every month. Given that the company indicates that it intends to extend the service to other stations over the next couple of months, it is a safe bet to say that the number of Indians who will be able to access the internet, thanks to Google, will continue to increase steadily.
Facebook Facing Problems
Facebook, on the other hand, has been facing some problems in its bid to provide free internet services to the Indian population. Earlier in the year, the company attempted to roll out its Free Basics program. Under the program, the company sought to provide affordable Internet services to millions of individuals in India who cannot afford to pay for their mobile data.
However, the program was briefly blocked by the regulatory authorities. Currently, Facebook is still struggling to implement an effective free internet program that it can use help millions of Indians to access the internet.
There is nothing new in what Google and Facebook are doing in India. The idea behind providing free Internet services to the Indian population, in particular, is informed by several things.
First, these tech companies are looking for ways of locking in millions of users into their ecosystems. For example, Google believes that once it has millions of Indians accessing its free internet, it will be in a position to earn more from increased ad revenue. Facebook, motivated by the same idea, has constantly been seeking to outsmart Google in several other countries in Asia and Africa, apart from India.
The second reason is related to the growing need for internet access in India. According to C. S. Rao of QuadGen Wireless Solutions, Facebook and Google are attracted to India because the country has a fast growing population composed of mainly young people who are tech-savvy.
Therefore, the companies are interested in getting as many young Indians as possible into their apps and then monetize the process in the form of ad revenue.
Since only about a third of the Indian population have access to the internet, we are likely to continue witnessing intense competition among the leading tech companies to provide free internet to the Indian population. However, if Google’s plan of increasing free WIFI spots on Indian train stations succeeds, the company is likely to maintain its lead over the likes of Facebook and even Microsoft.