Facebook has issued its response to TRAI’s latest paper on zero-rating plans, saying that its own Free Basic app is open to all developers, is non-exclusive and non-discriminatory.
TRAI posted another paper on Net Neutrality questioning zero-rating platforms by TSPs and whether giving access to certain websites for free or lower prices would be anti-competitive and discriminatory.
Free Basics was earlier known as Internet.org and is now a part of the wider Internet.org mission at Facebook, where they wish to free provide net access to those who don’t have the means of getting online. Activists have criticised Internet.org as being anti-net-neutrality, a charge Facebook denies.
Facebook’s Kevin Martin, Vice President, Mobile and Global Access Policy, said in a statement, regarding TRAI’s latest paper, “We are committed to working with TRAI to uphold the principles of affordable and innovative internet access for India in a fair and consistent manner. During the consultation process, we hope the focus is on the issues that matter most.”
His statement defends Free Basics and says that the data shows that the app is helping more people come online “by serving as a bridge to the full, paid internet.”
Martin goes on to add that Facebook’s Free Basics “program is non-discriminatory, non-exclusive and open to all developers…Many thousands of people have applied for jobs as a result of the program. We also know that healthcare information has been accessed millions of times on Free Basics. We hope those involved in this discussion consider the broader consequences of halting or limiting programs that help people connect and improve their lives.”
Free Basics is available on the Reliance Network and recently the app was made available across the country. Reliance claims that 1 million Indians came online via Internet.org.