Earlier this week, a handful of Indian companies renounced their partnership with Internet.org, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative to bring connectivity to parts of the world where people can’t afford / don’t have access to the Internet.

The Indian firms contend that the initiative’s concept of zero-rating, in which telecoms incur the cost of data traffic so users don’t have to pay for it, goes against the spirit of net neutrality.

On Friday, Zuckerberg addressed the matter on Facebook, saying he strongly disagrees with the notion. He said Internet.org fully supports net neutrality and they want to keep the Internet open as it ensures network operators don’t discriminate by limiting access to services that people want to use.

Zuckerberg added that net neutrality is not in conflict with trying to get more people connected. The two principles – universal connectivity and net neutrality – can and must coexist, he said. To get more people online, it is useful to offer some service for free. Zuckerberg noted that if someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it’s always better to have some access than none at all.

He reaffirmed that Internet.org doesn’t block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes, adding that they are open for all mobile operators and aren’t stopping anyone from joining. The goal, he concluded, is to get as many Internet providers to join as possible so they can connect as many people as possible.

Image from Forbes