IT industry body Nasscom has said telecom regulator TRAI should give complete flexibility to apps and websites for deciding on provisions for rewarding free data to customers.
In its response to consultation paper of TRAI on free data for telecom customers, the body also said operators should not have direct or indirect influence on the content that customers view on the Internet.
It said the purpose of free data or concessions on data usage as reward is to encourage users to explore Internet.
“When the reward is given by the platform and not by the individual website, it should not have any conditions attached that translate into discrimination between websites and apps or have any conditions as to which websites and apps may be accessed, either implicitly or explicitly, including stipulations regarding technology or content,” Nasscom said.
The body also said there should be no stipulations on how the data reward can be used by the customer, like restricting its use to specific websites.
Nasscom in its suggestions invoked net-neutrality to keep intervention of telecom operators out of free data reward decision of websites or applications.
“Net Neutrality is a universal concept (recently upheld by the US courts as well as other nations in the past) where TSPs (telecom service providers), as access providers, have no power to influence consumer choice relating to services, applications, content that a consumer accesses. Therefore, TSPs should not have any direct or indirect influence on the content that customers view on the Internet,” Nasscom said.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) through its consultation paper on free data is exploring equivalent of toll free number for Internet space where customers can access websites without having to incur data charges.
The regulator is looking at a framework, which should be compliant with the principles of net neutrality and it should be telecom network agnostic.
Telecom industry bodies, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), have questioned the points in the consultation paper talking about telecom agnostic platform.
The industry body has also questioned jurisdiction of TRAI in case it wants to frame rules on free data without involving telecom operators. Various stakeholders have asked TRAI to define net neutrality before framing rules for free data.
Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar in his comments said: “TRAI must define Net Neutrality urgently and this definition must focus on preventing gatekeeping/cabelisation by telcos. Free data must not be regulated through an ex-ante ban, but on a case-by-case basis. Regulation must not dampen competition or innovation on the web.”