Alibaba is leaving no stone unturned for strengthening its presence in India. The Chinese giant is now looking at offering affordable data services and even internet to Indians via partnerships with telecom operators. The company is also planning to invest $200 Million in Paytm’s online marketplace business.
According to a report by Business Insider, Alibaba’s search and software division, UCWeb, which it acquired in 2014, said that the company is looking for newer opportunities in India while working on last-mile access.
Alibaba is currently negotiating with telecom operators and Wi-Fi providers to offer free internet in India.
“We will definitely look at the opportunity to work together with service providers or even some Wi-Fi providers. We are trying to offer lower cost data to users and better connectivity, even free of cost connectivity. Wi-Fi providers and other players can be potentials and we are in talk,” said Jack Huang, President of Overseas Business, Alibaba Mobile Business.
Free Internet Scenario In India
It is worth mentioning that global internet giants like Facebook and Google have also offered free internet to the India. Facebook tried offering free internet via its Internet.org and Free Basics initiatives, but landed up in trouble by violating Net Neutrality.
Google on the other hand, has collaborated with RailTel, the communication arm of the Indian Railways, for providing free high-speed Wi-Fi internet access at 400 railway stations across the country.
As of now, Reliance Jio is also offering free and unlimited internet access to its mobile subscribers until 31 March, 2017 and has successfully become the primary internet source for 42% of the 4G subscribers in India.
Alibaba’s free internet initiative is a great idea but we would warn you to not get too excited about it, as the company may not launch it in your state or region. The company would prefer only those areas where people struggle to access a good internet connection, and that’s not the case in most of our large cities.
“We actually think in geographic way because in India not every state is suffering from connectivity problem so we will focus more on providing this kind of services to states that are suffering more and also we will have comprehensive analysis on already existing consumers who will actually need this kind of service,” Huang added.
Recently, Alibaba Group has announced an investment of Rs. 2 billion via UCWeb in India and Indonesia over the next 2 years. The company is looking for hire over 30,000 bloggers and content developers has launched compensation plans for them.
We are hoping that Alibaba would offer internet services at competitive price or free with no restrictions (web and type of content), as doing so would violate the Net Neutrality. We will you updated with all the latest developments regarding free internet access in India. Stay tuned!