The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today announced its recommendations on the issue of differential data pricing. The regulator has barred service providers from offering or charging differential data tariffs on the basis of content. The decision essentially means end of programs such as Facebook s Free Basics as well as zero-rated services like Airtel Zero in India. Shortly after the announcement, reactions both in favor and against differential data pricing have flooded on the social media. Here are some of the main responses from the telecom industry, and from users on social media. Also Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAIAlso Read - TRAI's new SMS regulations will prevent spam, fraudulent messages: Here's how
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has welcomed the TRAI decision describing it as bold and fair.
The association had taken a no exception standpoint against differential pricing. This ruling vindicates the associations stand on the issue. The Internet startup ecosystem and the Internet user community are delighted. IAMAI has also welcomed the move that the TRAI will be the ultimate authority to decide the cases of violations of this ruling and that the decision of the authority is final and binding, it said.
The IAMAI, however, has expressed apprehensions about the issue of exception , … the association has a slight concern on the exception and the exception to the exception as to how this entire thing will pan out. The association hopes that the exceptions to the rule will not be misused by the TSPs. The exception states. it added.
The bit IAMAI is referring to is mentioned in TRAI’s ruling as, “…regulation shall not apply to tariffs for data services over closed electronic communications networks
Industry body NASSCOM has also welcomed the move. Mr R Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM said, Our submission highlighted the importance of net neutrality principles, non-discriminatory access and transparent business models aligned to the goal of enhancing Internet penetration in the country. The TRAI announcement resounds with the submission made by NASSCOM and we would like to congratulate TRAI for enshrining the principles of net neutrality.
Net neutrality proponent and Member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, This is a big win for Indian consumers & Net Neutrality. Congratulations TRAI and R.S Sharma for standing up for consumers. This is a very powerful and positive first step taken by TRAI. Day of Telco controlling regulations and regulatory policy is over and it s consumer to the fore.
Arpita Pal Agrawal, Leader – Telecom, PwC India, said: “With this notification TRAI has decided that all citizens of India will get the same view of the Internet which is in line with the principle of non-discriminatory access. What remains to be done is to find innovative ways to actually get all citizens access to this Internet as India’s ranking in universal broadband access is abysmally poor and the digital divide continues to widen.”
The Cellular Operators Association of India was disappointed with TRAI’s ruling.
The telecom industry is disappointed with TRAI s decision to rule out differential pricing. COAI had approached the regulator with the reasons to allow price differentiation as the move would have taken us closer to connecting the one billion unconnected citizens of India. By opting to turn away from this opportunity, TRAI has ignored all the benefits of price differentiation that we had submitted as a part of the industry s response to its consulting paper, including improving economic efficiency, increase in broadband penetration, reduction in customer costs and provision of essential services among other things. In our opinion, TRAI s regulation on prohibiting differential pricing constitutes a welfare-reducing measure of high concern by blocking a possible avenue for our less-advantaged citizens to move to increased economic growth and prosperity by harnessing the power of the Internet. We believe that this measure will have an impact on the Government s ambitious Digital India initiative, Rajan Mathews, Director General, COAI said.
Many took to Twitter to respond to TRAI s decision
Facebook clearly meant well with FreeBasics. But did not understand Indian needs–or markets. Showed ignorance, arrogance, colonialism
Vivek Wadhwa (@wadhwa) February 8, 2016
Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) February 8, 2016
Welcome TRAI’s ruling in support of #NetNeutrality. Big win for internet users in India!(1/2)
Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 8, 2016
VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) February 8, 2016
Milind Deora (@milinddeora) February 8, 2016
Big win for #NetNeutrality!! The help we got from our users was beyond our expectations. Thank you all!
Alan Mamedi (@AlanMamedi) February 8, 2016