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This is How Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Violated Net Neutrality With A Lot Of Pride

A missing piece in NetNeutrality debate is the historical view of the matter. Yes, you can blame Airtel Zero or Flipkart for what they plan to do (read : Flipkart’s response to Net Neutrality/Airtel Zero debate), but the truth is this: Most of the global technology companies have flaunted Net neutrality with a lot of pride and traction.
Let me share a few examples.

1. WhatsApp

The one *startup* that made the most out of violating net neutrality is WhatsApp. Several telcos in India made WhatsApp data usage free to grab more customers. For example, RCom made WhatsApp data free to selected college students. That was WhatsApp’s first telco partnership – every other telco followed the same strategy.
Free-WhatsApp
Point to Ponder : Big became bigger. How else can you explain the death of several messaging startups in the country?

2. Facebook

If there ever was a list of ‘digital mafias’, Facebook will take the #1 slot. Several telcos partnered with Facebook to make the app data-free on their network.
2010: Airtel Makes Accessing Facebook Free for Subscribers (2 Months Scheme)
2010: 0.Facebook in India for Reliance and Videocon Subscribers – No Data Charges
2013: Facebook in Regional Languages Free for Airtel Users
The list goes on. Facebook has also launched Internet.org – which pretty much is a slap on free Internet.


» Read NextBigWhat’s coverage of Net Neutrality Debate.


3. The Google-Lord?

Apart from partnering with telcos, Google earlier made Internet access free to its G+ users. Imagine if companies started doing so (read : Is The Problem Airtel Zero OR Splitting Of Internet?)

Free Internet Access for Google+ Users in India [+Carrot]...Users will be able to surf YouTube to watch exclusive movie clips and promotions for 10 minutes each week at no cost.

Access Gmail, Google+ and Google Search for Free on Airtel
Plus, Google has actually put Youtube in front of telcos – enabling free access for selected telco subscribers.

4. Twitter?

Similar arrangement with telcos as what Facebook and Google had.
RCom Users Will Have Free Access To Twitter During The ICC World Cup
Reliance to Offer Free Twitter Access for GSM Subscribers. Similar arrangement with Vodafone was done in 2013.
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Why did we not object to these companies? Why no mob ever ‘took on’ these companies? Why did we not tell their CEOs to stop giving us freebies.

Now that the gluttony of free data is over, it’s payback time.
» Rise up to the occasion. Tell TRAI that net neutrality will kill India’s rising digital economy.
For a quick starter, head to savetheinternet.in.
The Time To Act Is Now.

5 comments

  • If WhatsApp, FB, Twiter et al are accused of colluding with telcos to make their app usage free than same holds true for eComm (FlipKart, Myntra, SnapDeal etc) and RadioCab (Ola, Uber etc) are doing. They are also selling product/services below cost price courtesy truck load money from VC/PE and killing brick and mortar business in process.
    Fact is bug fish always eats up small fish and all the talk is simply BS.

  • Some of us did complain against all of those. But all these were below TRAI’s radar. This time it became a serious issue because TRAI is now planning to recognize and validate such arrangements. If this happens, there won’t be coming back.

  • Please understand the meaning of net neutrality before writing such articles. The issue you have raised is not that of net neutrality, but of “deep pocket” way of doing business and there is nothing wrong with it. These schemes are a win-win-win, telcos get to entice customer to buy internet plans, apps witness an increase in user-based, and consumers (us) get free service. Net neutrality pertains to “providing different network speed” by telcos to paid customers which are likely to be companies like WhatsApp and Facebook