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TRAI to reject differential pricing, Facebook’s Free Basics in trouble

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is set to reject
    differential pricing for data services, a move that would mean the end of
    controversial services like Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero,
    highly-placed sources told the
    Times of
    India
    .

  • Trai will issue an order to this effect within a week, the
    • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is set to reject
      differential pricing for data services, a move that would mean the end of
      controversial services like Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero,
      highly-placed sources told the
      Times of
      India
      .

    • Trai will issue an order to this effect within a week, the
      newspaper reported, quoting top sources.

    • The order is also expected to bar free or subsidised data
      packages that offer access to only select services, such as Facebook, Twitter
      or WhatsApp messenger. “These are discriminatory and are against the
      concept of digital democracy. We will not allow them,” a source said.

    • The regulator’s stand will clear the confusion over net
      neutrality. There were apprehensions over the manner in which free Internet was
      being offered, after the introduction of some zero-rated platforms with
      preferential treatment to a few websites for a fee.

    • This will come as a big setback for Facebook and Airtel,
      which have campaigned heavily for zero-rated platforms.

    • Facebook has spent close to Rs 300 crore on Free Basics ad
      campaigns in India, the
      Mint said in
      a recent report.

    • Out of the Rs 300 crores, the social network put in Rs
      180-200 crore on print ads, which is believed to be the most for any medium.
      Facebook has been in recent weeks running full-page advertisements in multiple
      newspapers, urging people to support its Free Basics campaign.

    • Free Basics campaign has been alleged to violate net
      neutrality by differentiating Internet access for certain types of services.

    • In December, Trai had last month floated a consultation
      paper on differential data pricing, with the last date for comments on December
      30 and for counter comments on January 7.

    • Trai has received a record 2.4 million comments
      on the paper.
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