Amid a global debate over the issue of Net Neutrality, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said it might soon take a decision on the differential pricing for data services.
“A few days back, we had released a consultation paper on the differential pricing for data services. We may take a decision in this regard soon,” TRAI secretary Sudhir Gupta told reporters on the sidelines of ‘Consumer Outreach Programme’.
TRAI recently held an open-house discussion on the issue, which saw huge participation from telecom operators, consumer rights groups, industry bodies and individuals. While telecom companies and Facebook stuck to their guns pitching for allowing differential pricing, Net neutrality activists opposed any such move.
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“It was a very lively consultation. The hall was full, a lot of people participated and gave their views, comments, thoughts and I think we will take all these into account. And we hope that by the end of this month, we will come out with our position,” TRAI Chairman R S Sharma told reporters after the discussion.
TRAI’s paper on differential data pricing sparked a new debate on the issue of Net Neutrality in India, given that Facebook was planning to launch its own zero-rating platform called Free Basics in partnership with Reliance.
TRAI’s paper raised questions about allowing such differential data pricing, and whether it would be anti-competitive, which could also stifle innovation in the country. Facebook, on its part has defended Free Basics, saying the app is free and open to all developers, and that the aim is to give Internet access to the poor.
TRAI had in a strongly worded letter reprimanded Facebook for its high-handed campaign in defensive of Free Basics.
Last year in April, Airtel had proposed a similar zero-rating platform called Airtel Zero, which sparked backlash as it was seen in violation of the principles of Net Neutrality.
With PTI inputs