Mumbai: Telecom operator Reliance Communications Ltd on Tuesday announced a partnership with Facebook to provide free Internet access to its existing and new customers.

The company would provide its customers free Internet access to more than 36 websites through Facebook’s app Internet.org. This would be Facebook’s first tie-up in India for its Internet.org services. The list of 36 websites includes various low-bandwidth news, social, utility, health and education websites including Facebook and Facebook messenger.

Starting 10 February, the free Internet connection would be extended to the telecom operator’s customers in seven circles. The free Internet access is currently available in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

“The plan is to extend the service to all our customers on a pan-India level in the next 90 days’ time," said Gurdeep Singh, chief executive officer, consumer business, Reliance Communications. The telecom operator has a customer base of 110 million users.

“Any Internet-enabled phone with a Reliance connection will be able to avail of the free service," Singh added.

It is not clear who will bear the cost for providing this free Internet service. The company refused to divulge details related to the cost sharing mechanism, if any, with its partner Facebook.

The company added there will not be any usage limit placed on the consumers using this free service.

“The average Internet usage per consumer is typically not more than 120 MB per month. We have enough capacity available and have made the necessary augmentation, wherever required, to handle the increase in traffic in the seven circles," Singh added.

Officials from both Reliance Communications and Facebook’s Internet.org did not share any guidance of how many new users they aim to add with this initiative.

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