New Delhi: Social media giant Facebook on February 8, expressed disappointment over telecom regulator Trai's decision not to allow differential pricing of data, saying it adversely impacts its free internet platform Free Basics.
"Our goal with Free Basics is to bring more people online with an open, non-exclusive and free platform. While disappointed with the outcome, we will continue our efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the internet and the opportunities it brings," Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has put a blanket ban under its 'Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016' on charging different price based on the usage of internet leading to discrimination among content and services available online. Though Trai has not mentioned net neutrality in its regulation but differential pricing of internet or data services is serious issue under net neutrality.
"No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content," TRAI Chairman R S Sharma said unveiling the details of the regulations, effective on February 8. However, plans which are in contravention to this regulation that are active in market will remain in existence for a period of six months from their activation.
Facebook launched aggressive campaign to defend its Free Basics platform and advocated that zero rating plans can lead to increase in Internet adoption at no cost to the government, the content provider or the consumers. It was available in India only on Reliance Communications network but the same was put on hold after TRAI's order. The regulation, however, has been appreciated by top leaders including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
"Welcome TRAI's ruling in support of NetNeutrality. Big win for internet users in India. Congratulations to all those who campaigned tirelessly & fought hard to ensure that our internet remains free & equal for all," the office of Rahul Gandhi tweeted. The Congress party also issued official statement lauding the regulation.