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Facebook '2G Tuesdays' to better understand markets like India (businessinsider.com)
212 points by Oatseller on Oct 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 159 comments

It's worth noting that Chrome has a Device Emulation feature, which allows you to throttle connection speed to common presets such as EDGE/2G/3G/etc. It makes testing mobile layouts easier, at the least.


Also, Mac OS and iOS have the Network Link Conditioner, which can do the same thing (from a network perspective) at the system level:


And Windows, of course, has Fiddler:


And for completeness, Linux has tc [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tc_(Linux)

Practically speaking, wondershaper is way simpler for basic throttling.

NEWT may be more appropriate if you are interested in not-HTTP:


Maybe it's just me, but aren't the presets on Chrome extraordinarily over-optimistic?

For example, I cannot comprehend how you could get anywhere close to 250KB/s on 2G (which is approx. 2Mbit/s). Furthermore, most WiFi connections cannot get anywhere near 30MB/s (which is 240 Mbit/s).

Either that, or the UI is incorrectly using KB/s when they mean Kb/s (Kbit/s).

I used this at work today. Someone had asked what our webapp's sysreqs were. I said that network connection was very unlikely to be a problem, but it really struggled when set to GPRS. Now, I think it's unlikely that anybody would be using it on that, but it's still good to know that it's an issue.

Mark's speaking live right now in India at an IIT Delhi campus

Livestream via a local television channel(s) (as of 12:08 AM 10/28 Pacific)


I would guess that the majority of Facebook's mobile traffic is through their app.

Do Facebookers never venture outside of cities? Because maybe the UK is weird, but getting 2G even in developed areas isn't that uncommon for me. Sure there's 4G in cities and 3G in many places, but there's plenty of places with poor signal or outdated transmitters (like the town I live in).

(This is especially noticeable if you're in a train or a bus where you're frequently changing cells.)

I have to say, when I visited the UK from the US last fall, for the first time with a smartphone, I was amazed at how atrocious the mobile coverage was. I did my research beforehand and went with Vodafone as I expected the best coverage. From the time I activated my phone in Bath, through 3 days driving through Wales, and then up the motorway towards Edinburgh, I got GPRS and EDGE if I was lucky. I think I only occasionally saw 3G and never saw 4G or LTE. I was very convinced that my unlocked iPhone 5s was somehow not able to use Vodafone's faster bands in the UK. It was simply unusable for navigation or even the most basic tasks, and I was very happy with my choice to bring a standalone satnav device as well as the phone.

Then I arrived in Edinburgh, and, bam, 4G -- which persisted back to Newbury and London.

In the US, particularly last decade, we felt that we had been left so far behind in mobile technology compared to Europe, but my coverage woes this last trip made me feel somewhat better-- as did the realization that roaming charges were still a thing in the EU (having assumed they must have gone away ages ago).

The best coverage I experienced was in Iceland, where even the most remote-seeming canyon had top-notch data service, and our apartment for the week had 50Mbps FTTH service.

On a slightly more recent trip to New Zealand, I went with Vodafone again, and had much better luck with coverage-- I only lost coverage on the west coast of the south island which did not surprise me given the remoteness.

I think that was merely an incorrect perception. The US had substantial 4G coverage long before Europe did. As a whole Europe has been far behind on 4G adoption until recently.

The same is true about broadband speeds. It's widely believed, incorrectly so, that the US lags massively behind Europe on broadband. It's not true however, it's little more than a bogus bashing point spread around online. The US has comparable average broadband speeds to the UK and Denmark, and is faster than Germany, and far faster than France, Italy or Spain. [1]

[1] https://www.stateoftheinternet.com/resources-connectivity-20...

Which is, btw, really surprising because the US had a avg. speed of 6.0 in 2013 and 11.5 in 2014, while Germany only improved from 7.7 to 8.7.

IMHO that's really strange...

Did something major happen between 2013 and 2014? Because otherwise I can't think of any reason that would double the average speed of a whole country with a population of over 300 million.

Yeah; as I mentioned, my impression was from the previous decade. Quite a bit has changed since then.

I don't know why you had problems in towns, that seems strange. I did a trip to Wales and the English Midlands, and had no problems with O2, or my friend with Vodafone — I have photo check-ins from mountains and valleys in Wales to show for it.

Having said that, Vodafone has a reputation for good 2G coverage, but I don't think that holds for 3G or 4G. It could also be a bit out of date.


I think it's telling that Vodafone's 2G map shows the whole country, but the 3G and 4G maps are limited to a high zoom, so you don't get an overview.

The government regulator has a map which gives a fair comparison: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/mobile-coverage.

For anyone else doing something similar, EE would be the best choice.

This comment thread makes me feel spoiled - I used to live in Sweden where my operator (Three) didn't have a 2G network, now I live in Japan where all the 2G networks are long-gone. Right now I'm visiting Australia where by far the best coverage is on Telstra's NextG 3G network (I'm 80 km away from the nearest supermarket yet am getting 6 MBit down on NextG with an antenna on the roof).

I haven't seen 2G in a LONG time

New Zealand is similar, one carrier is 3G/4G only, one of them is 2G/3G/4G, and the newest one only operates their own network in major cities on 2G/3G/4G and roams onto the second largest outside of it. I frequently get 3G in very rural areas and I haven't been in a 2G only area for months.

Three in the UK is 3G/4G only - but is noticeably patchier than other providers, since if you 'go rural' it will just drop out rather than fall back on GSM.

Three in Sweden got a big boost in coverage after the original legacy GSM licenses ran out and the frequencies got redistributed so that they got a slice of low-frequency spectrum to put 3G on.

Minor point but I'm fairly certain Telstra NextG is a 4G network.

NextG is their 850 MHz 3G HSDPA network. Their 4G network is just branded "Telstra 4G" and "Telstra 4GX" for 700 MHz.

I thought it was kinda funny when telstra had "NextG" in their marketing, because now it's essentially "PreviousG"

Same with how the Hutchinson networks around the world (UK, Hong Kong, Sweden, etc) are branded "Three" even now that they have 4G networks running.

Probably not at the same time as they're trying to build the products they do at work?

I find taking the overground in London quite good for testing real download speed for mobile web applications, rapidly switching cell towers with some of them not even running gprs

In Vietnam, there are more and more buses have 3G router w/ AP to supply internet to their customers on road trips. Even the remote mountains now have stable 3G network.

Yes, we visited Vietnam last year (beautiful country by the way, well worth a visit) and were surprised to get solid 3G coverage even out in the middle of Ha Long Bay!

I'm American, and I took a road trip last month from Dallas to NYC and back (going through Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and tiny bits of a few other states).

Unless I was in a city, I only had 2G signal, and in a few places I didn't even have that (but those were rare).

Edit: for reference, my carrier at the time was Simple Mobile, an MVNO of T-Mobile (I'm no longer with them anymore: I just activated Project Fi today).

Every time I've taken a train in the UK (between Aberdeen and Edinburgh or Glasgow, or from Edinburgh to Manchester) this has been my experience. When you're sat in the station in a city you get 4G, it rapidly deteriorates to 3G after you set off, then 2G, and then it just alternates between 2G and nothing.

And this is the exact reason I left T-Mobile. AT&T have 4G coverage on pretty much the entire interstate system. When I had T-Mobile I'd drive from NYC to Columbus, OH and have no signal for the 8+ hours between the two cities.

With Band 12 LTE, this is changing rapidly on TMO.

Upgrading to a Nexus 6 made vast improvements to my T-Mobile coverage as it supported the new bands.

Verizon and AT&T have vastly better coverage.

Project Fi rides on T-mobile and Sprint (T-mobile having the better network of the two).

In my experiences, T-Mobile is much better to have when you have both. If you're somewhere where you're just hoping for anything at all, Sprint wins. T-Mobile has fast data, but falls off quickly outside dense areas. I find the two complementary in a way that gives Fi a powerful synergy.

My reference areas are Maryland,DC,VA (through NOVA and down to farming areas around Charlottesville); a weeklong road trip from Phoenix to Los Angeles with Las Vegas and Grand Canyon stops; and a month-long road trip going through VA-MD-PA-NY-NY-OH-IN-IL-WI-MN-SD-WY-MT-ID-WA-OR-CA.

I am in Chicago, and it is not uncommon to see the connection (AT&T in this case) drop all the way to Edge inside buildings.

For ages I thought 'E' meant emergency, like it was some sort of backup connection for emergencies that didn't really work at all... this was back in 2008.

Uh, I thought it meant 'error'.. Only now I realize that it's referring to connection type.

There's plenty of people who commute towns and cities to Facebook London :)

It's really bad for satnav apps. If you try to plan a route in Waze with a 2G connection, the app will give a timeout error and become unusable.

Huh. Google Maps handles it really well, I frequently use it for bus times.

Germany and Portugal also have the same situation.

They should add "no battery recharge Wednesday".

And "activate every push notification available on my device Thursday".

"Friends keep posting idiotic political rants Friday."

and let's not forget "Candy Crush Invitations Saturdays"

Number one reason I use the mobile site. Or mobile sites in general.

This would help me too, as a first-worlder: I often use T-mobile's free global data roaming, which is super-nice to have, but capped to 2G speeds (128kbps). It becomes quite clear that some sites' designers have never tested their functionality at 128kbps...

Especially sites that hide content until all CSS and fonts are loaded... SO ANNOYING.

1+ from me! Its so friggin frustrating. I remember back in the days I had a 14.4k modem for reading news articles. I could read the article almost immediately, even if it took minutes to load some of the images.

We, at hike ( http://www.hike.in), did following things: 1. gave the cheap android smartphone to use as their primary phone 2. asked employees to stay on 2G on their mobile phones

It helped a us lot to improve our product for India market.

Your landing page takes 15 seconds to load on a simulated "Regular 3G" connection in Chrome. If you'd like I could walk you through fixing some of the most obvious problems, my contact info is in my profile.

I need help understanding why this is being down voted.

As you asked.. firstly because doesn't speak to the actual idea being put forward, merely implying that they are—at best—incompetent and at worst hypocritical. It then compounds this faux pas with a tender for work which seems a little galling.

"I could walk you through" seems to me to be an offer to help, not a pitch for business.

It struck me as basically somebody saying "if you care about it for your app, I'd be happy to help you care about it for your website".

I feel like you're assuming bad faith, and the person confused as to why the comment was being downvoted was applying the principle of charity instead.

A cursory look shows that this is not an implication but a statement of fact:


I didn't get the idea that grk was pitching consulting services but just to be clear that I have no interest in that market, here are the most obvious things:

1. Enable gzip transfer compression for static assets like Bootstrap

2. Compress the large images more aggressively and perhaps turn on progressive JPEG, although that latter step might be CPU-costly on mobile devices

3. Set cache headers on all static resources so regular users and anyone behind a caching proxy will avoid the full server RTT

4. If you use www.hike.in, optimize the redirect to go directly to get.hike.in instead of having a full RTT to get the intermediate hike.in redirect.

Beyond that, I'd look into a front-end diet – do you need so many images, can you lazy-load images or that 350KB of youtube, etc?

I assume that it is because of the attempt to take the discussion offline when the information is probably relevant to the discussion and therefore relevant to multiple readers. Must discussion forums frown upon that.

the most obvious problems are that he don't concat images/js/css.

No SSL, No HTTP2/PageSpeed. Html not concated.

No additional server in america. It sucks to connect from Germany. It's twice as fast to connect to Servers in America so ALWAYS have a US Region.

I hope their messenger is better.

The first thing you need to fix is sending spam messages on behalf of a user to other contacts on his/her list. Here is a typical example that was automatically sent from my phone to a contact on my list without my consent:

"Happy Dussehra! Join hike this weekend & get a festive bonus of Rs. 51 free talktime on joining. It's 5 times faster with 10 new features. http://hike.in"

I'm thinking of reporting this to relevant authorities.

I totally agree with you. It was such a nuisance. I uninstalled the app 5 minutes after installing.

Also, after the hike fiasco, I kept getting callbacks from many of my contacts that I had given them a missed calls.

Very shady. I don't even know how they do it. I thought it was illegal to pretend as another mobile number.

The funny thing is I don't have their app installed. I have 2 Lumia phones that I use only for testing websites (no apps installed) and I have no idea how Hike was able to send messages via my phone to my contacts (have only 2 contacts on that phone). I haven't investigated it yet but looks like they were able to use some Windows related exploit to send messages on my behalf.

Ditto, I've installed and uninstalled hike a lot of times because of this. Guess they care more about growth at the expense of retaining normal users. Most people use whatsapp for 'timepass' and whatsapp groups. And not real communication.

You've got a typo:

>Free Group Calls With Upto 100 People With The Tap Of A Single Button!

"Upto" should be two words

Your app looks interesting, how come no "About" or "Team" page??

From when "Team" page is a standard?

I believe this will have a positive effect in the U.S. as well. For whatever reason, I get 1 bar of service at the office if I'm lucky. The Facebook app is frustrating to use under those circumstances. On the contrary, Twitter is actually not that bad. I've been impressed with it under bad network situations. Consequently, I find myself opening up Twitter a lot more than Facebook during breaks.

Cue corporate IT departments everywhere advertising the slow internet speeds as "We are helping you empathize with the developing world"

Today I found out my megacorp has been leading the charge to help me empathize with our customers in Africa. It's a sad day when my latency to the internet in Europe is higher than our actual satellite connection to a remote site in Africa.

Be happy that you have access to Internet in Europe. I'm sitting in an international corporation's office in Shenzhen, China, and I have to do absurd amounts of dancing with VPNs to be able to leave a message for my family. Oh, and I have to do it on my own mobile connection, because no way a VPN over corporate network will last more than 30 seconds.


What facebook needs to realize is that 2G is not the only factor because of which people don't use the facebook app.

First of all the app takes too much resources and makes the phone sluggish, especially on low end phones which are very common here. (Messenger is big offender here)

I believe one of the reasons why whatsapp became so popular was that it was faster to use than facebook's messenger and you could easily delete media to save storage.

People prefer using facebook on Opera Mini on their iPhones and android phones than using it from the app.

Interesting. Maybe I'm using the wrong browser (default and Chrome), but one of the primary reasons I stick to the FB and Messenger apps is because the browser on my phone (Galaxy S4) basically kills the device. I prefer "sluggish" to "so slow that you want to throw your phone out of the window".

From what I read somewhere Facebook was making their mobile engineers use their app on older Androids (and maybe iPhones), which turned out to be very frustrating for them. I'm sure they are aware of the problem...

> whatsapp

Whatsapp is just as bad. Disallowing it from running in the background extends my battery life from under a day to over 2 days. Why are these messaging apps so resource hungry?

I know all of this thanks to an old lecture I once attended (not a phone dev), so my information might be a bit off and outdated, but in broad strokes: it's partially due to naive programming practices, but phone manufacturers are also somewhat to blame.

Every app has to poll for new messages on their own. That means opening up a connection just to see if something new is there.

To give an analogy that's easy to grasp: imagine a giant sluice, big enough to fit two oil tankers. Opening a connection is like sending boats through it, the boats are the data, and the water is the power used each time. Now this sluice is a bit funny: once you operate it, it's very efficient and automatic, but it runs twenty times. In other words, you want have at least forty big-ass boats full of data to send through if you don't want to waste energy (to be clear, I just pulled these numbers out of the air; and in a real sluice that would be forty boats both ways, but internet connections are a bit different).

Now imagine you just send a teeny tiny boat checking for new messages each time. If there's a message, data will be sent back (other boats). If not, due to how 2/3/4G work, the sluice will still open and close forty times. That'a s LOT of wasted water. It also takes time to operate the sluice.

Not everyone who develops these apps is aware of this, so some naive app developers poll all the time.

What would be amazing if the phone OS provided some sort of batching system where these polling messages would queue up, and it would connect for all of them at once. I dunno, maybe the newer phones have something like that.

There's a very informative XMPP XEP[1] with mobile considerations that touches on what you said (although that analogy of yours is great!). Where my problem lies is: even if I was the cleaner at Whatsapp or FB I'd be making noise about battery life, I'd do everything I could. Put another way: I struggle to understand how a company that is about mobile doesn't put being a good mobile citizen first and foremost.

It's not that hard to open a TCP connection, or heck, even a WebSocket. HTTP 1.1 is clearly the wrong application to use here.

[1]: http://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0286.html#power

> Put another way: I struggle to understand how a company that is about mobile doesn't put being a good mobile citizen first and foremost.

Lack of accountability? All the complaints I hear about battery life are aimed at manufacturers, rather than the crap that we shovel on them and forget about. Facebook taking flak over their recent background audio problems was a rare exception.

> Lack of accountability?

Accountability comes with the functionality that allows you to see which apps are using battery. I recently upgraded to WP 10 and got a notification saying "some background apps are using a lot of battery," which is how I became aware of the culprit.

That notification is a very smart idea and I hope to see it at some point on Android/iPhone.

That's why AT&T (of all companies) has a team dedicated to teaching app developers how to make better behaving apps (the lecture I attended was by one of their guys).

I think developers of large apps such as Whatsapp will be aware of this and will be aware of Google Cloud Messaging: https://developers.google.com/cloud-messaging/

This handles all aspects of regular polling so that adding more messaging applications shouldn't negatively affect the battery performance. Instead the application should be alerted and awoken if a relevant message is pushed to the device.

I'm on 4G network, and with a not so bad mobile pone. Huawei P8 lite (2Gb Ram). If i have facebook and messenger apps running, I can't get one day of battery life. Don't really understand why there apps are so power intensive.

Every software shop in the world should be designing and coding for low connectivity speeds.

I/they (I am no longer with Opera Software) did that for a decade with Opera Mini. It's an interesting engineering challenge.

It got us lots of users (0.25B monthly actives) but they are (relatively speaking) quite poor, so ad revenues aren't as high as you might wish. So you need a lean operation, at least if your operating cost is significant - like transcoding web pages for 1/30th of the global population...

No every software shop in the world should be designing to the requirements of their target userbase -- which often is not India.

>>which often is not India.

But its a often a low end phone with slow internet speeds.

If I remember correctly, one of Google's advantage over their competition in their early days was their page would load quickly on low end desktops and slow dial up connections.

This is the correct answer. A parallel is also designing for outdated internet browsers.

I read a quote a while back. If you want to develop fast software, use a slow computer.

Not only should app developers use slower internet speeds, they should be developing it for the low end smart phones- Which make up for most of people who are using smart phones.

Especially in a country like India, there are a lot of people using $20-$30 smartphones. Who make most of the users out there. Develop for them, and you get a huge user base for free.

You get what you pay for... for many U.S. internet/tech companies India is typically at the bottom of the list of countries where the company's revenue is derived from.


Edit: It seems to me that depending on the market one targets there's not much to be gained from designing for slow connection speeds...

Except that you get slow connection speeds pretty much everywhere as soon as you move outside your house. Subways, commutes, etc. For crying out loud, you even go to EDGE on AT&T when commuting in Sillicon Valley on CalTrain!

Exactly. This article really changed the way I thought about optimizing for slow network speeds: http://www.kryogenix.org/code/browser/why-availability/

Probably because you don't know where your app will blow up. Unless the app is geographically restricted, there's no real telling where the spark will happen. Maybe it unintentionally solves a massive problem that is happening right now in India, and you suddenly have a massive influx of 2G users. If you hadn't even considered the experience for them, it won't matter how quickly it blows up; it'll fizzle immediately when you have a shitty experience.

For example, on my trip a few weeks ago, I used T-Mobile's free 2G roaming to get around. Searching for something on Google was pretty quick, and loading a Wikipedia page also was relatively fast. But the second I moved away from them and onto real sites that didn't try to optimize for lower speeds, I was pulling my hair out at how much data was trying to get sucked down on such a slow connection. It took minutes to load some websites.

Happy visitors to your page/app/whatever?

Return visitors to your page/app/whatever?

Just because one is connected using Verizon, doesn't mean the connection speeds at any given time are all that great.

The question is, how do you know how much is to be gained, unless you try? Just because you see most customers being on high speed connections most of the time doesn't mean much: for one, it could be because otherwise it's so bad no one does it; plus, a better experience for slow connections/older devices is quite likely to translate to better experience for everyone.

Otherwise, you might figure it out when you suddenly lose most of your users to a competitor who offers a snappier experience.

Link to the Facebook Engineering blog post


They should also try using older/slower phones that are representative of those areas. I remember that I had an LG L7 which was barely usable at all even freshly reset.

I believe the FB Empathy Lab[0] is all about this sort of device testing

[0]: https://twitter.com/alexstamos/status/656582605173858305

Any employee can grab a crappy phone. Some of the Messenger crowd have 20+ phones on their desks.

Most don't stay with them for too long, though. It does really take an extra push to advance this. I had a Galaxy Young for two days after I cracked my normal phone's screen. It was kind of hellish.

Ad blocking will improve response times on slow links by about 50%. More for really bad sites.

How can I improve this on my phone? I have ad blocking and flash blocking on my laptop, which speeds it up considerably. On my phone which is slower, lower memory, more battery sensitive, and data capped (so ads are a bigger nuisance), I can't find a solution that works on and off WiFi.

I'm in the process of getting a local DNS server set up at home which will help some by blacklisting ad network IPs, but it won't help over the mobile network.

And I'd rather not pay for a cloud server to use as DNS when I'm on the road, plus I think Android will use Google's DNS server if other lookups fail. I discovered this when my parent's internet stopped working for their computer and their iPhone, but my Android worked fine. Their ISP DNS was offline.

Firefox for Android supports many addons, including uBlock Origin, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, NoScript, etc. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/android/

After having had the first few addons I tried to install a good while back tell me Firefox for Android was not supported, I gave up on trying.

I love uBlock Origin on the desktop and thanks to you now I have it on my tablet too!

Thanks for this! Firefox runs great on my phone, and this is an older phone that is also throttled for battery life.

> And I'd rather not pay for a cloud server to use as DNS when I'm on the road, plus I think Android will use Google's DNS server if other lookups fail. I discovered this when my parent's internet stopped working for their computer and their iPhone, but my Android worked fine. Their ISP DNS was offline.

If your phone is rooted, you can just set your /etc/hosts file to send requests to ad domains to /dev/null (figuratively). That's basically what Android ad blocker apps do.

If you're not rooted, you can use Firefox for Android, which lets you use extensions like uBlock and Ghostery[0] on your phone.

[0] not an adblocker, but related, and also helps speed up sites that load lots of crud

An option if you'd like to try this yourself, at home: https://shuhaowu.com/blog/network_emulation_on_your_router.h...

(Previously on HN here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10224547 )

Is Facebook still planning to gate the internet in India behind Facebook, though? I recall they had plans to give folks in third world countries access to Facebook only, which is extremely sad.

Except they were going to offer that service for free, which IMO changes the picture.

I agree that criticizing what's essentially a gift isn't "nice". But, on the other hand, this move reeks of evil-ness. Instead of bringing 3rd world people knowledge and freedom, we bring them Facebook. This is embarrassing.

People like to disparage Facebook, but it can be an incredibly useful tool. I'll give an example from my own life: Soon after I moved to Oakland, a neighbor recommended I join the neighborhood's Facebook group. It's become invaluable. Group members coordinate to help find missing pets, catch vandals, report stolen vehicles, and warn others about crime. City council members are also members of the group, so we work with them to fix problems. It's much more efficient and convenient than the standard ways of petitioning the local government.

This may seem like a trivial improvement, but it has caused the neighborhood to completely turn around. Everyone is amazed by how much better and safer the area has gotten. So I don't mind if Facebook's motives are ultimately profit-driven. People in developing countries could greatly benefit. It's win-win.

First free heroin dose is also a gift.

Well sure, people wanted more. Facebook offered something for free, and people said "that's not enough, I want more for free!". Not a new story.

You might not want to use the service. Fine, then don't! Is your life any worse because it exists?

I try to avoid complaining about things which are free as in beer.

>>people said "that's not enough, I want more for free!"

That's not what people said. People wanted all things on the internet to be treated as equal, also known popularly around the world as 'net neutrality'.

There is a very little difference between, offering something for free. And offering different services for different prices.

For eg: Indian Telcos have been longing to bill VoIP calls as regular calls.

I'd rather pay to access everything with a uniform quality of service, than get into differential pricing. Pushing your hidden agendas through this way should not be welcome.

You would rather pay for uniform access, but that's not an option for the market we are discussing. Given a large market that currently has nothing because they are unable to pay for anything, would you prefer that Facebook: A) Leave them alone with nothing. Or B) Give them free access to Facebook?

You are suggesting we sacrifice the 'net neutrality' principle for a short term gain. Once you let this happen, the telco's will continue with their differential pricing policies citing it has been done before.

Thank, but no thanks.

I would prefer we rather stick with the net neutrality principles.

I'm suggesting that it's complicated. In all of your replies you are talking about what you want to pay for and what you expect in return. But, this isn't about you. It's about hundreds of millions of the poorest people on Earth. If you went on tour of India to personally tell a few tens of thousands of them that because free Facebook access would set a bad precedent (which you are totally right about, btw) they should continue to be cut of entirely until they get rich enough to pay for the level of access you already enjoy, you might find that the issue warrants a bit more thought.

I'm from India.

Facebook access isn't like Polio vaccination. Poor people in India worry more about food than Facebook/Internet access. Even if they were given internet access, Most don't know how to read and write. Those capable of spending around 2000 rupees on a smartphone(lower middle class) can also buy a pre paid internet pack for an affordable price. And already do.

If you want to see the real innovation happening in countries like India to make Internet accessible to every one look at : http://www.saankhyalabs.com/ Who are working towards using wasted tv bandwidth for internet.

I agree with most of what you've said, but I think its inaccurate to say that most don't know how to read and write. According to the 2011 Census, the literacy rate is 74% [1]

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Census_of_India#Literacy

Who is going to pay for the uniform access to everything you want?

We are not asking anything for free. We will pay for a internet connection, for the bandwidth and for the speed. Once done, we wish to use that bandwidth and speed they way we like.

But we are not going to pay extra money just to use a chat application over the internet, or make a VoIP call.

This isn't about you, though. It's about the millions of people who can't afford to pay.

Well, yes. Except, internet access isn't going to be the first problem they'd want to solve (or be solved).

That's fine, but providing internet access doesn't preclude others from solving other important (or perceivably more important) problems.

how do you compete with free?

how does HBO compete with free tv? They make a great product.

"free" is just a convenient excuse Facebook is using so they can pretend they have some sort of moral high ground when in reality they are just another big western-style business with dreams of imperialism.

If they actually cared enough to want to help people, they would be trying to help with something that is actually needed. An AOL-style walled garden is a joke compared to vaccinations, food, and energy. Instead, we are seeing a modern variant of the East India Company trying to insert itself into foreign affairs. This is rent-seeking of the worst kind.

I had recently started building a payment network business in India and the bandwidth situation is constantly at the top of our minds.

What makes the situation in India peculiar is not just the lack of 3G, but the variance within the band. It is not unusual to see "3G" connection with 15Kbs speeds.

A recent study, which I am unable to dig into at this moment, showed that the aggregate bandwidth of a 3G connection in India is only marginally (~18%) faster than a 2G connection.

The second challenge we encounter is "fake" connectivity - even though the phone shows 3G or 2G, it is not a guarantee that there exists a data network at all.

And yet another study found that more than half of the country did not get what upgrading to 3G meant. If and when the phone companies successfully win the mind share of this half and encourage them to switch over to 3G, the situation will deteriorate even further because of the load on the band.

A dated but an effective coverage of the situation - http://www.economist.com/node/10214756

Creating adaptive (and even offline apps, especially regulated financial industry apps) is super-challenging from a product point.

I will be glad to answer any other questions, related to this topic.

P.S - I have spent ~15 years in NYC and a few years in London and can empathize with the comments in this thread. But building mobile apps for India, takes a different thinking IMHO. We need to wear the hat of a microkernel / embedded systems developer from 8085 era.

Shameless Plug - we are hiring programmers / mathematicians to solve problems like this. If interested, please email me. ID in my profile.

There is also a problem of cellular companies with fake "unlimited" plans. Basically, they offer 3G speeds only till a certain limit after which they throttle it down so much that it is barely usable, like Idea Cellular[1].

I have stopped having any mobile data on my phone and mostly prefer WiFi, since I hate paying for such a limited internet.

[1]: http://www.ideacellular.com/idea/select-circle?PlanType=3Gne...

To be fair that's a pretty common tactic even here in the US. T-Mobile's cheaper "unlimited data" plans are 5GB of 3G/4G with aggressive traffic shaping afterwards that basically dings you down to 2G-ish speeds unless you're browsing at 3AM or something. Do these companies just not disclose that though?

This is why I am perfectly happy with our team's local Vagrant development boxes being quite sluggish - the visible lag has surfaced a few timing and UX bugs already. It's important to feel the customer pain as your own.

Every company should have such a day in my opinion. It makes you think hard about every KB you're cramming in your requests.

I'm surprised Facebook UK engineering isn't driving this. Reception is terrible country wide here

Ha, I'm glad I'm not the only one. Just posted a reply to another comment here about my visit to the UK last fall.

Even with faster speed available I used 2G for a year because I got it basically for free. Only recently with change to my job I upgraded to 3G to get better audio streaming while on move. Spotify worked fine when I was stationary, but couldn't keep up with me on the highway.

Wonderful! - but it seems a tad late. :) Even the poorest parts of India should be about to move to 3G (or even 4G) within the next few years due to the more efficient usage of spectrum. Of course it would be insanely overloaded with lots of delayed packets...

So, what I'm hearing from you is it is not too late.

It's really, really late (8-10 years) but not too late?

I never bothered on having a machine upgarde at work when offered for a similar reason. If stuff is running slow, then it will be noticable on my mahcine rather than on the more powerful production server. That and reinstalling everthing is a pain.

I think that Chrome has a network throttling simulator in their Dev Tools that could help and give interested people a rough idea of what to expect from the page performance under severe network conditions.

I use edge for email, no web browsing or apps. waaay too slow these days, too much data to transfer even with images off (it used to work ok when 2G was a first world thing)

EDGE is semi-usable with Opera Mini.

Also known as:

* Tether Your Phone Tuesdays

* Work from Home Tuesdays

* Fucking Stupid Idea Tuesdays

"I know, let's get a bunch of really smart people, and totally fuck over their productivity 20% of the time." Genius!

What is Facebook? Looks like some website a ten year old boy coded.

I see you are downvoted, but I had a laugh. It looks familiar. (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/01/f9/75/01f975659...)

Can they do "Underground Thursdays"? Nearly every app degrades to unusable the second I get on the subway.

In unrelated news, Facebook employees have begun to organize "Work from home Tuesdays".

They're smart about it:

> When a Facebook employee logs into the app any Tuesday morning, they'll see a prompt at the top of their News Feed asking whether they want to try out the slower connection for an hour.

and then they use that info when evaluating an employee's eagerness to move forward, be a team player etc. !

Of course, react minified is something like 137mb... and that's not including any other libraries like flux.

i assume you meant kb ...

or hyperbole ...

Is everyone at FB so young that they don't remember 2G in America?

Even if you aren't young or don't work at FB. I remember how 2G was, but if you asked me to estimate how fast would any modern website work on it I wouldn't have a clue. Except maybe for HN which I would expect to work fast.

Websites have accumulated so much bloat while our speeds have gone up. Facebook loads the same for me now, on 20x greater speed than when I started using it and similar story can be told for other major websites.

Depending on the source, the average age of their employees is between 25-28 years old. That's young enough to realistically expect that they've never owned a smartphone without 3G.

I don't think age matters that much. Smartphones didn't really take off until 3G was pretty common. I'd wager the vast majority of smartphone users of any age in the US got a 3G-capable phone as their first smartphone. Speaking personally, I'm 35 and my first smartphone was an iPhone 3GS.

I like how one of the employees in the foto is wearing a react t-shirt :)

I'd be shocked if I learned they didn't steal this idea from Google.

<edit> Not sure why downvoted. Google has had hobbled networks like this for a long time, for exactly the same reason.

I don't think it's a bad thing for Facebook to take this obviously good idea from Google and adopt it themselves. It seems that the only outcome is a better experience for users.

Probably being downvoted for using the word "steal". It has a negative connotation where there should not be one.

I didn't mean it negatively. It's a brilliant idea and worth copying.

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