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India’s Richest Man Offers Free Cellular Data Service to Millions

For now.

Mukesh Ambani, right, with Hillary Clinton and, left, Ratan Tata, the former chairman of the Tata Group, the massive Indian conglomerate. (Photo: Public domain)

For a country of over a billion people, India has pretty spotty internet service, with only around a fifth of the country able to go online. That’s because outside of massive population centers like Mumbai and Kolkata, the country’s internet infrastructure is far, far behind the times. 

But the country’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, who has earned a fortune in oil and gas, unveiled on Monday a new service that gives hundreds of millions free internet access, according to CNN.

How? Through cellular data. Ambani has invested $20 billion in building almost 100,000 towers across the country, and his service, dubbed Reliance Jio, will give users the equivalent of 4G internet speeds on their phones and other devices. 

Ambani’s interest isn’t purely altruistic, though, as tech companies for years have been trying to find a way to tap into a massive potential new market of Indian internet users. But, that said, until the end of 2016, the service is free, after which users will pay around $2.25 a month for data. 

So, stream all you want, for now. Free 4G data was never meant to be forever.