* The Jana Android app is called mCent. It now has more than 25 million registered members.
* Companies that advertise with Jana get presented inside of mCent similar to an App Store.mCent users browse and discover apps related to their interests, download them, and then get reimbursed with the data it costs to use them.
* This free data that users earn can then be used to browse the Internet unrestricted or download any app (not just the app which enabled the free data).
* mCent app is available in 15 markets, including: India, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico,Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. China is currently in beta.
Also read: >Interview with Nathan Eagle
Jana, a Boston-based start-up, says it has figured out a way to offer billions of people in the emerging world free access to the Internet without violating the Web’s open nature.
A few days back, it launched Jana Loyalty, a product that seeks to reward its smart phone users in two ways. One, it reimburses users the cost of downloading and using an app of Jana’s clients. Two, it gives free additional data with which the user can access any content online.
Jana's launch comes at a time when social media giant Facebook’s attempts to provide a limited version of the Internet free has been attracting criticism from supporters of Net neutrality, especially in India. Net neutrality is about treating all data equally.
Critics argue that Facebook’s internet.org, which offers users free access to a bouquet of pre-selected Web sites, violates the principle of Net neutrality by choosing what is accessible and what isn’t. Facebook has reacted to this by opening up internet.org to all developers who meet its guidelines.
“What we are doing is not against net neutrality,” Jana founder Nathan Eagle told The Hindu. “It is important to make the distinction between a gatekeeper and a gateway.” A gatekeeper model, he said, is something where some information is free and the rest isn’t. “We are doing the exact opposite of this.”
Mr. Eagle said, “We are giving credits which can be used for voice calls, for SMS, for data or anything. There is no gatekeeper to say for what the credits should be used for.”
He said, “This can be thought of same model as television. When you turn on the television it is never the same company paying for the advertisement while providing entertainment. In the same way we want to provide free internet.”
Jana currently offers free Internet to 1 million active users every day, and Mr. Eagle’s goal is to take this number to 10 million by the end of this year.
“ What we are doing is not against net neutrality,” Jana founder Nathan Eagle told The Hindu. “It is important to make the distinction between a gatekeeper and a gateway.” A gatekeeper model, he said, is something where some information is free and the rest isn’t. “We are doing the exact opposite of this. ”
Its system starts with its android app mCent, an advertising platform. Companies that advertise with Jana get presented in mCent in much the similar way as items in an app store. The users of mCent can then browse and discover apps related to their interests, download and use them. They would then get reimbursed and also get more data.
In India, where it claims to already be the number two app advertising platform after Facebook, its “short-term goal is to provide free internet for one in four android users.” Mr. Eagle said he has already tied up with major telecom providers in India.
Globally, the firm has tie-ups with 237 mobile operators. Started in 2006, it has received about $40 million in venture capital funding until now, including from marketing services company Publicis Groupe. Maurice Levy, Publicis’ Chairman and CEO, is on Jana’s board.