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IAMAI takes exception to Free Basics, differential data pricing

  • The Internet and
    Mobile Association of India, whose members include Facebook, Google, Twitter,
    and other Internet companies, has said it was against platforms like Free
    Basics that can lead to creation of different data prices, the
    Press Trust of India reported.
  •  
  • IAMAI said that
    different pricing models mentioned in the consultation paper of Telecom

    • The Internet and
      Mobile Association of India, whose members include Facebook, Google, Twitter,
      and other Internet companies, has said it was against platforms like Free
      Basics that can lead to creation of different data prices, the
      Press Trust of India reported.
    •  
    • IAMAI said that
      different pricing models mentioned in the consultation paper of Telecom
      Regulatory Authority of India are not only violating the core principles of
      TRAI’s pricing regulation, but also the principles of net neutrality.
    •  
    • “No, the TSPs
      (Telecom Service Providers) should not be allowed to have differential pricing
      for data usage for accessing different websites, applications or
      platforms,” IAMAI said in its comment over TRAI’s ‘Consultation Paper on
      Differential Pricing for Data Services’.
    •  
    • IAMAI said as per
      TRAI’s paper there are three different models identified that have differential
      pricing for data or Internet services.
    •  
    • The first one being
      “when the service provider selects the content, which is offered free or
      bundled together at reduced rates,” similar to zero rating platform like
      Airtel Zero. Under such plans telecom consumers don’t pay for accessing
      websites or any content on such platform but the owner of content pay for
      joining it.
    •  
    • “In another
      form, one content provider creates a platform where other content providers can
      apply, and be selected. The platform creator then partners with service
      provider(s) to provide free Internet access to participating content providers,
      for the subscribers of those service providers,” which is similar to Free
      Basics.
    •  
    • “Such models
      come at a cost of lowering consumer choice and giving rise to oligopolistic
      competition. Under-privileged and non Internet-savvy users will never know the
      whole of Internet under such limitations,” IAMAI said.
    •  
    • IAMAI also mentioned
      third model where Internet charges are differentiated on the basis of specific
      set of applications and opposed it. There have been instances where telecom
      operators decided to levy higher charges for making Internet-based calls and
      messages.
    •  
    • “We have serious
      issues with the models that are proposed by Trai to do so. Foremost is our
      contention that the models raised by the Authority do not pass the muster of
      its own principles of price intervention,” the industry body added.
    •  
    • Meanwhile, the
      founders of nine major startups have, in a letter to telecom regulator TRAI,
      urged it to preserve “the open nature of the Internet”. Nearly 40
      professors from IITs have also written to TRAI, alleging that Free Basics
      “will lead to total lack of freedom on how Indians use the Internet”

     

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