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IAMAI Says Against Free Basics, Differential Data Pricing

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IAMAI Says Against Free Basics, Differential Data Pricing

Industry body IAMAI, whose members include Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other Internet companies, on Wednesday said it was against platforms like Free Basics that can lead to creation of different data prices.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said that different pricing models mentioned in the consultation paper of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) 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,” IAMAI said.

It said that the Internet should have equal access to all the content or applications at an equal rate to consumers and free Internet should be on the basis of free data not free specific content.

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