Regulator TRAI’s suggestion of a government-funded scheme to provide 100 MB free data per month to rural consumers is “critical” in view of demonetization, and it can act as an effective mechanism for bridging digital divide, IT industry body Nasscom said today. Also Read - Airtel 5G Mumbai trials show download speeds of 1.2Gbps, upload at 850MbpsAlso Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
On TRAI’s recommendation on allowing third party ‘aggregators’ to provide free data in a non-discriminatory manner, Nasscom said that much would depend on the modalities of the registration process for such entities. “There is a realization that for digital inclusion to become a reality in India, there is a need to provide some free data. The recommendation of free data in rural areas is critical in view of demonetization and it will be an enabling mechanism for bridging digital divide,” Bishakha Bhattacharya, Senior Director of Policy at Nasscom said.
Telecom regulator TRAI yesterday mooted government-funding for provisioning of around 100 MB free data per month for rural consumers. TRAI suggested that the cost of implementation of the scheme may be met from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)– which is meant to promote telecom services in rural areas.
Under USOF, the government charges a cess in the form of Universal Access Levy, from telecom licencees to fund setting up of telecom infrastructure in all uncovered rural and remote areas of the country. “We have been saying that if you allow people to use data, they will realize how important it is. The utility of data services will be demonstrated to the first-time users,” Bhattacharya pointed out. ALSO READ: Broadband connectivity to 500 million people possible through cable TV network: TRAI Chairman
TRAI has also favored an ‘aggregator’ model of providing data credit in subscriber’s account as reward if the same is structured in a manner that is open and non-discriminatory. TRAI has said that the ‘aggregators’ providing free data service will need to register with the Department of Telecom and it should be a company registered under the Companies Act. The validity of registration shall be five years.
“The devil lies in the details…We would like to see the modalities for third-party aggregator in terms of registration rules, reasons for rejection, if any, and transparency mechanism put in place for the process. We would like to see more clarity on that,” she said.