The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had asked RCom to stop offering Facebook’s Free Basics for the time being as it seeks comments on whether telecom operators should be allowed to have differential pricing for different online content. RCom is Facebook’s sole carrier partner in India for Free Basics and has faced severe backlash for the service amidst campaigns claiming it voids the basic principles of net neutrality. Also Read - Facebook testing this new feature for Instagram: Check detailsAlso Read - Facebook is hiring for 10,000 posts: Know details
“We have asked them (Reliance Communications) to stop it and they have given us a compliance report that it has been stopped,” a senior government official told TOI. Also Read - Hate speech drops by almost half on Facebook, claims company
TRAI had sought responses on a consultation paper for net neutrality and had set December 31 as the deadline. Since the past couple of weeks, Facebook has gone on the offensive first by prompting its users to send a pre-drafted email to TRAI, which does not seem to answer questions sought by the TRAI but shows support for Free Basics as a service that would increase Internet usage in the country.
In the last couple of days, Facebook has rolled out full-page spread advertisements in national dailies telling their side of the story and urging users to not be misled by “net neutrality activists.”
The ad spreads feature taglines like A first step towards Digital Equality and Support a Connected India . The description reads how Facebook s initiative will help Indians connect to the Internet, which will eventually lead to a brighter future. It also asks users to Support Digital Equality by giving a missed call on a phone number.
Facebook recently also started prompting users on Facebook to show their support for free Internet by supporting Free Basics. Facebook essentially handholds users to send an email with the copy telling TRAI the benefits of the initiative. If that wasn t enough, Facebook also prompted users in US to support Free Basics in India, but it later confessed that this was an accident.
In its advertisement Facebook has also revealed that more than 3.2 million users have supported Free Basics in India.
The folks at savetheinternet.in have come up with a detailed response to the Free Basics ads. The point-by-point rebuttal of the ads show how there can be better alternatives to Facebook’s Free Basics if increasing Internet usage in India is indeed the objective.
It also claims how Free Basics is making Internet access for everyone more expensive. Facebook claims it does not pay carriers for data usage on Free Basics, which the campaigners suggest carriers charge from users who pay for access to the entire Internet by keeping subscription costs high. You can check out the detailed response here.