Internet users in India seem to be putting Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in a dilemma. According to fresh reports, the regulator has already received over 540,000 comments on its second consultation paper over ‘Differential Pricing for Data Services’. Most of these comments are in support of Free Basics initiative by Facebook. TRAI will keep the inputs open until December 30.
While TRAI doesn’t use the phrase ‘net neutrality’ in its paper, the subject of differential pricing itself has been at the core of the debate over net neutrality in India, ever since Airtel announced its Zero Platform. The first consultation paper on this matter had received over 1.2 million emails when several media platforms & Internet firms had actively been supporting the concept of net neutrality, and had launched ‘Save the Internet‘ campaign.
The difference in the responses TRAI has received this time, could clearly be attributed to Facebook’s Free Basics campaign that the social media firm has been running since December 16th, where it is urging its users to support its initiative. On the grounds of ‘Internet for All’ the company has been pushing Indian netizens to write to TRAI in favour of Free Basics.
This move by Facebook has received a lot of criticism on digital media and on social networks, since a lot of Facebook users would still be unaware of the complete implications of TRAI allowing telecom operators to have a differential pricing scheme.
“Hundreds of millions of people in India use the Internet every day and understand the benefits it can bring. This campaign gives people the opportunity to support digital equality in India. It lets people speak in support of the one billion people in India who remain unconnected, and lets them participate in the public debate that is being held by The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on differential pricing for data services. And it gives them the opportunity to support Free Basics, which is proven to bring more people online and accelerate full internet adoption.” a Facebook spokesperson told iamwire. The company has also been floating the following television commercial over several TV channels this year, to reach the unconnected masses for its mission.
The final decision rests in the hands of the regulatory body, it will keep the line open for counter comments on the matter till January 7th. To view the mentioned paper by TRAI, click here. In order to share your views on the matter to TRAI, drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org