Zuckerberg's visit to India comes at a time when the debate about net neutrality is already at a high-point here, and Facebook has also been strongly advocating the service in India, with print and television advertisements, and ads on Facebook as well.
At the IIT Delhi Townhall Q&A, Zuckerberg discussed several topics, from Internet.org (now rebranded as Free Basics) and net neutrality, to why India is such an important market for Facebook. He even discussed how Oculus Rift will be incorporated into social media.
"Internet.org is live in 24 countries around the world, there are 15 million people who have access to the Internet now, who wouldn't have had it otherwise... Internet growth rate is twice as much with Internet.org. This is a program that's working around the world, it works and it will connect more people."
Zuckerberg added that Internet.org or Free Basics is aimed at "breaking down barriers to availability, affordability, and awareness." Speaking further on availability, he said Internet.org will be made more widely available with solar-powered planes to beam down connectivity. Facebook also plans to put satellites in space to provide Internet connectivity.
As for affordability, he said Facebook has been working to make its apps use less data, and now use one tenth the data they used to. Getting to awareness, Zuckerberg added Free Basics allows people to access basic utilities like education, job listings, basic communications, Wikipedia, and tools. "We've found that half of the users who use Free Basics become full paying customers," he said, detailing the benefits for operators.
Answering a question on whether Internet.org supports net neutrality without any filters, Zuckerberg said the company was looking to build an open platform that any developer can build something for. "One of the illusions of Internet.org is that it's a small set of Internet services that people can use, that couldn't be further from the truth. We can provide this Free Basics program, any developer that fits that definition that is text or low bandwidth, or not cannibalising the operator business."
"We are not being a filter to any of the content there. This is an important topic, and we think that it's important that we have regulations to prevent hurt people. If you're a person trying to watch some videos on YouTube or Netflix, and an operator wants to charge for that, that's bad. That's the type of thing we should have regulations against."
Getting to why India is such an important market for Facebook, Zuckerberg said, "If you have a mission to connect every person in the world, you cannot do that without connecting India. It is the largest communities we have across the world. We take responsibility to serve our users in India."
"A billion people do not have access to the Internet yet. It's really a tool that provides vital infrastructure to our life. Health, education, jobs. For every 10 people who get access to the Internet, one person gets lifted out of poverty, and one gets a job... Connecting things in India is one of the most important things we can do for the world. Second biggest community in the world, we really want to get the next billion people online," he said.
Speaking about Oculus Rift's social media implications, Zuckerberg said, "Dev kits are being shipped around the world, over 200,000 dev kits have been shipped... As time goes on, people get richer and richer communication mediums. We're really entering this golden age of internet video. The primary way where we'll share our experience and ideas online is through video. I don't think videos are end of the line. People want an ever richer medium, which is what virtual reality and augmented reality can do. [I'm] Expecting a daughter soon. Sharing that experience so that my family and friends can experience her first baby steps, is going to be really magical."