Today, January 25, is the final day for submitting public and stakeholder comments on the TRAI consultation paper on Differential Pricing for Data. This paper will see the fate of Facebook's Free Basics internet service in India. TRAI, the telecom industry, Save The Internet activists, startups and content providers, have all been part of an ongoing tussle on the issue of Differential Pricing for data services in India. The regulatory authority is expected to come up with a set of guidelines on the same, by the end of January.
Free Basics is a free but selective Internet service that is being publicised all over India right now. Facebook claims that the sole purpose of this service is to provide free internet access to the poor and disconnected population of India and other such regions. But, Net Neutrality activists argue that such a service would violate the principals of an unbiased Internet, as telecom operators will then get a chance to push out selective content for free or subsidised prices on their services, hence, creating an Internet marketplace. Telecom operators are looking at this as an opportunity to expand their revenue streams, considering the fact that they are already suffering losses due to high spectrum prices, call drops and a high infrastructure investment cost.
The final decision on Differential Pricing for data services will be taken by TRAI by the end of this month. At least that was the last call taken post the TRAI Open House on the subject, where all stakeholders in the debate expressed their opinion to the regulator in person. Guidelines for the next evolution of Internet services in India will shape the Internet of our future. Do you think TRAI should approve Differential Pricing and services like Free Basics by Facebook? Let us know your thoughts in our comments section below.