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Alibaba To Provide Free Internet In India, Follows Other Tech Companies

By February 10, 2017 at 6:13 am
Jack Ma (Photo : ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Several tech companies including Google have pledged to provide free internet to India. Alibaba, China's largest online company is looking to join Google as they plan to give free internet access to India.

Alibaba's UCWeb is in talks with local telecom operators and Wi-Fi providers in India to help them in their vision. Jack Huang, president of overseas business at alibaba mobile business says that that are trying to offer low cost and quality internet connection and is even thinking of giving free internet.

Free internet access in India will likely grow UCWeb's presence in India as they see potential in the country. UCWeb has actually started investing in India with a plan of investing $29 million in the India as well as the Indonesian market in the next two years.  Huang added that India is the most critical overseas market for the company and will usher in a new era with Google, UCWeb and Facebook at the forefront.

India has 400 million users which makes the country the world's second largest internet user base but with 2/3 of the country's population still not connected to the internet, the potential is huge for UCWeb. This makes the country an attractive place for tech companies looking to grow their users and engagement level.

Other tech companies has taken note of the potential growth in India including Google that has plans to build free Wi-Fi stations at 100 railway stations in India. Microsoft and Facebook are also making plans of their own.

However, UCWeb will likely encounter regulatory issues when pushing for free internet in India. Currently, the Indian government does not allow companies to provde free internet to dictate content users can access. For instance, the government banned Facebook's Free basics.

Primarily a mobile internet company, UCWeb has expanded it platform to serve as a news distributor and content platform. UCWeb also has plans to attract over 30,000 self publishers, bloggers and influencers to drive their content platform this year. UCWeb was acquired by Alibaba in 2014 for a reported $1.9 billion.

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