Facebook users in India dealt with a blow as the Free Basics project was discontinued in the country.
Free Basics, which covers 38 countries and connects more than 19 million users, was banned as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ruled to prevent Internet providers from charging users with different rates for accessing different content. The ruling enforces the rejection of Facebook's free Internet program, which started out as Internet.org.
Shortly after the announcement of the end of Free Basics in India, Facebook India managing director Kirthiga Reddy revealed that she will be stepping down from her position in the company.
According to a Facebook post by Reddy, who was the first employee of the social network in India, she will be returning to the United States over the next six to 12 months after starting the growth of Facebook India six years ago.
"Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected," Reddy says, referring to the mission that she followed. Reddy adds that over the coming months, until her return to the United States, she will be working with Facebook executives William Easton and Dan Neary to search for her successor in the position that she is vacating.
Reddy is not leaving the company though, as she stated that she is already looking at opportunities that she can take advantage of within Facebook once she is back in Menlo Park.
While the outgoing Facebook India managing director did not make any mention of the discontinuance of Free Basics in the country, it would be safe to assume that the events that transpired played a part in her decision to resign from her position and move back to the United States.
Facebook pushed Free Basics forward as a program that would provide free basic access to the Internet for users, in partnership with telecommunications companies. However, the initiative was criticized for allegedly being in violation of the principles of net neutrality.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was among the critics of Free Basics, stating that the Internet should be monopolized by a few parties.
After a consultation process that lasted for months, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released its decision to ban operators from charging users with different rates for Internet access, putting an end to Free Basics.