Is Facebook Stuffing Net Neutrality Ballots in India?

Is Facebook Stuffing Net Neutrality Ballots in India?

Facebook Free Basics takes on TRAI
Hands up if you LIKE Free Basics by Facebook

The Indian Telecoms regulator TRAI is about to pass 600,000 comments in reaction to its latest RFC Consultation Paper on Differential Pricing for Data Services.  The paper essential asks whether Telecom operators should be allowed to significantly change the way they charge for their services.  Many of the comments that have come in, relate directly to Facebook’s Free Basics (here).  Which funnily enough makes sense when we heard that Facebook has started a campaign asking its users in India to send an automated email to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, letting them know that they support Free Basics.  Here is the Facebook email text (if you would like to send it).

“Free Basics provides free access to essential internet services like communication, education, healthcare, employment, farming and more. It helps those who can’t afford to pay for data, or who need a little help getting started online. And it’s open to all people, developers and mobile operators. With one billion Indian people not yet connected, shutting down Free Basics would hurt our country’s most vulnerable people. I support Free Basics – and digital equality for India. Thank you.”

Below are the questions that TRAI presented in the Consultation Paper.

  • Question 1: Should the TSPs be allowed to have differential pricing for data usage for accessing different websites, applications or platforms?
  • Question 2: If differential pricing for data usage is permitted, what measures should be adopted to ensure that the principles of nondiscrimination, transparency, affordable internet access, competition and market entry and innovation are addressed?
  • Question 3. Are there alternative methods/technologies/business models, other than differentiated tariff plans, available to achieve the objective of providing free internet access to the consumers? If yes, please suggest/describe these methods/technologies/business models. Also, describe the potential benefits and disadvantages associated with such methods/technologies/business models?
  • Question 4: Is there any other issue that should be considered in the present consultation on differential pricing for data services?

TRAI’s Consultation Paper on Differential Pricing for Data Services can be found (here)

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