The long wait is finally over! The Telephone Regulatory Authority of India has given its verdict on the issue of “free basics”, the issue that had the entire country divided for months. The ruling was in favour of Net Neutrality, meaning there would be no differential pricing by any service providers!
For months, there were numerous debates discussing opinions on Facebook’s Free Basics internet service scheme, launched by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Free Basics allowed selected, free, access to Facebook’s service, which in turn gave free access only to a limited number of sites, including selected local news and weather forecasts, the BBC, Wikipedia and some health sites. It was heralded by Zuckerberg as a way to provide free internet for selective, basic services to rural and backward areas, connecting all of India via the internet. However, the scheme faced immense opposition and backlash by supporters of net neutrality who argued that data providers should not favour some online services over others.They argue that if the Facebook scheme is allowed, it would confer huge gate-keeping powers on the online giant, allowing it to decide what content users access – and that content would be either its own or that of its partners.
Finally, the official verdict was declared today, February 8th by TRAI, in favour of Net Neutrality, firmly rejecting Free Basics and placing a ban on differential pricing for India.
No service provider can offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content.
No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged by the service provider for the purpose of evading the prohibition in this regulation.
Reduced tariff for accessing or providing emergency services, or at times of public emergency has been permitted.
Financial disincentives for contravention of the regulation have also been specified
TRAI may review these regulations after a period of two years.
The news brought extremely elated reactions from several twitterati as tweets flowed in celebrating the news.
Great to see TRAI backing #NetNeutrality! Let’s keep the Internet free and independent.
— Kunal Bahl (@1kunalbahl) February 8, 2016
Cheers to that ! https://t.co/S05Q0Whvlh
— Vijay Shekhar (@vijayshekhar) February 8, 2016
— Sanitary Panels (@sanitarypanels) February 8, 2016
So what are your thoughts on this big win?? How do you feel after finally learning that TRAI approves Net Neutrality and rejects Free Basics? Let us know in the comments section!