TRAI has today issued the ‘Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016’ that disallow service providers to offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content being accessedby by a consumer. This move is a big win for net neutrality.
Also Read: TRAI move is a big win for net neutrality
This ruling was against the interests of Facebook and COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India). Both Facebook and COAI was very Disappointed with the TRAI on this matter. It would have been a win-win situation for both Facebook and COAI if TRAI ruling was against Net neutrality.
This move naturally means that social media giant Facebook’s plan to launch its Free Basics internet services in India, will not be going ahead anytime soon. As expected Facebook isn’t very happy about the ruling and released a statement.
According to a Facebook spokesperson, “Our goal with Free Basics is to bring more people online with an open, non-exclusive and free platform. While disappointed with the outcome, we will continue our efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the internet and the opportunities it brings.”
The main advantage of Facebook on Free Basic is to get more users to Facebook. Considering the Indian population the Free Basics would have helped Facebook to double its user base in India.
“The telecom industry is disappointed with TRAI’s decision to rule out differential pricing. COAI had approached the regulator with the reasons to allow price differentiation as the move would have taken us closer to connecting the one billion unconnected citizens of India. By opting to turn away from this opportunity, TRAI has ignored all the benefits of price differentiation that we had submitted as a part of the industry’s response to its consulting paper, including improving economic efficiency, increase in broadband penetration, reduction in customer costs and provision of essential services among other things. In our opinion, TRAI’s regulation on prohibiting differential pricing constitutes a welfare-reducing measure of high concern by blocking a possible avenue for our less-advantaged citizens to move to increased economic growth and prosperity by harnessing the power of the Internet. We believe that this measure will have an impact on the Government’s ambitious Digital India initiative,” said Mathews.