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3 Apr, 2024 03:41

Meta planning its first data center in India – media

Mark Zuckerberg’s company believed to have agreed to set up at Reliance’ campus, owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani
Meta planning its first data center in India – media

The IT giant Meta, owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is planning to set up it first data center in India, the Economic Times (ET) has reported. The proposed site is inside the campus of Reliance Industries in Chennai, which is owned by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani. 

If completed it would be Meta's first data center in India, according to the ET. Experts cited in the report suggest that Meta may be planning to run artificial intelligence (AI) models locally. The technology has recently come under increased scrutiny in New Delhi.

A local data center would “enhance user experience and cut transmission costs from global data hubs,” the newspaper said. Indian users’ data is currently serviced at a center in Singapore, even though they comprise the highest share of users on Meta’s major platforms, Facebook (314.6 million), Instagram (350 million) and WhatsApp (480 million).

According to the report, Meta and Reliance began discussions on collaboration in early March, when Meta founder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg attended the lavish pre-wedding celebrations of Ambani’s son. The guest list of the party included around 1,200 Indian and international celebrities and business people, including Donald Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka, tech billionaires Bill Gates, BlackRock investment company co-founder Larry Fink and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, among others. 

Reliance, the largest conglomerate in India by market value, recently inked a deal with another US company, Disney, forming a new entity valued at $8.5 billion. The new venture, combining Reliance’s Viacom18 and Disney’s Star India platform, will have 750 million viewers across 120 channels, making it the largest media network in the world’s most populous nation. 

The potential deal with Meta comes in the wake of New Delhi tightening its policies to bring development of AI-based models under better scrutiny in the face of threats posed by potential misuse of the technology.

A major controversy erupted in February after Google’s Gemini chatbot appeared to link the Indian prime minister with fascism. New Delhi claimed Gemini had violated India’s Information Technology Act and several provisions of the country’s criminal code. India later issued an advisory requiring “significant” tech firms to obtain government permission before launching new AI models. However, the directive was rolled back after criticism from local and global entrepreneurs and investors.

Last week, ET reported that Google, too, is in advanced talks to buy a large plot of land in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, to build its first captive data center.

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