Now that TRAI has put an end to Facebook’s Free Basics, RCom, which is the only distributor of Free Basics will soon start charging for the service.
Subscribers will have to pay applicable data charges for accessing websites or apps through the zero-rated Free Basics platform, once necessary technical modifications are done over the next few days. [source]
Plus, Facebook has shutdown Free Basics program in India, though it continues to run in other countries.
TRAI: No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content
TRAI has ruled against differential pricing.
No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has 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.
Earlier, TRAI had extended the deadline for receiving comments on its differential pricing for data services till January 7th.
TRAI Chairman clearly stated that the people had to answer the specific questions, which was raised on the differential pricing for data services and not an opinion poll. TRAI had asked Facebook to reach out to the users and ask them to communicate directly and answer to the specific questions raised.
While Facebook claims that 11 million people have supported Free Basics, TRAI says that it has received response from only 1.89 million. Facebook’s deadline to bring back *these* 9 million supporter ends today.
“As these users had not communicated any valid communication address, TRAI was unable to communicate with them directly. Therefore, you were requested to communicate TRAI’s text to all such users immediately so that they could comment on specific questions raised in Consultation Paper,” TRAI said.
On January 6th, Facebook responded to TRAI, saying that that it was unable to reach out to people who had responded via missed call as Facebook did not have their email ids on record. To this, TRAI expressed disappointment saying that it expected Facebook to reach out through SMS text or other means and guided them the URL of the Consultation Paper of TRAI.
If you purely by numbers (14.34 lakh comments supporting Free Basics), Facebook surely is winning the *number of votes*. But TRAI chairman R S Sharma has now clearly stated that this isn’t an opinion poll (i.e. do not provide templatized answers)
“Consultation papers are not opinion polls. We are not getting an opinion poll… Consultation paper always asks a question, seeking responses with justification. We expect stakeholder who participate in the process to provide meaningful inputs to us…We have asked a question on differential pricing and people have responded saying they love Free Basics,” [R S Sharma/source]
He also stated that “Respecting the fact they are 13 lakh people, we have extended the deadline for them to come up with the right answers, not just saying, I love Free Basics. I never asked about Free Basics,”
After all the major influencers shared their opinions on Facebook’s Free Basic, Microsoft too has come in the forefront and shared its perspective.
Microsoft India Chairman, Bhaskar Pramanik said that Free Basics does not comply with the principles of net neutrality and it does not treat all the content equally.
“I don’t think what Facebook is doing is about net neutrality; it is about helping first-time users get on the Internet and they should call it that. But to muddy it and say that it is also net neutral doesn’t make sense.”
He further added that though Internet should be free for everyone, Free Basics does not do it.
“Somebody is paying for it. And the problem then is that if the operator or a service provider has the right to pay for it, then it limits smaller or any other organisation (not part of Free Basics). I think we need to be very clear that net neutrality means that everybody has the same advantages or disadvantages,” said Bhaskar. [source]
Facebook has been playing an extremely emotional card to garnet supports for its ‘Free Basics’ service: equating it to ‘supporting poor people and giving them access to free Internet, which will make them prosper‘.[pullquote float=’RIGHT’ color=’#FFF’ bgcolor=’#000′]”If you dictate what the poor should get, you take away their rights to choose what they think is best for them”[/pullquote]
But the truth is that Facebook is also taking away your freedom to choose and will end up as a single entity that will choose what you do with your Internet.
Odisha CM, Naveen Patnaik wrote a letter to TRAI this April stating his support for net neutrality (and NO support for Free Basics) and below tweet by MP, Tathagata Satpathy pretty much summarizes how flawed Facebook’s FreeBasics logic is.
To quote CM @Naveen_Odisha: "If you dictate what the poor should get, you take away their rights to choose what they think is best for them"
Facebook has turned evil and wants to kill our Internet freedom. The company is running ads on all leading national and regional newspapers, is doing all-it-can to get people to send email to TRAI to garner support for its ‘Free Basics’ campaign.
Facebook is also reaching out to the developer community to gain more support for its unethical and misaligned ‘Free Basics’ campaign.
Facebook’s “Save Free Basics” Campaign is Misleading
You don’t have to hear it from us.
But, the man who invented world wide web,Tim Berners-Lee is totally against the idea of Facebook’s ‘Free Basics (a.k.a Internet.org)
… something which is branded internet, it’s not internet, then you just say no.
No it isn’t free, no it isn’t in the public domain, there are other ways of reducing the price of internet connectivity and giving something … [only] giving people data connectivity to part of the network deliberately, I think is a step backwards [Tim Berners-Lee, source]
Make your own choice.
Do NOT give in to Facebook’s emotional play on free basics.
Free Basics is an acidic way to kill your Internet freedom. You don’t want somebody else to decide what’s right for you!
We’re making this change to better distinguish the Internet.org initiative from the programs and services we’re providing, including Free Basics. Anyone currently using the app will be able to continue using the Android app, though it will now be called Free Basics by Facebook in Google Play. And the mobile web version, which will redirect from the previous URL, can be accessed at FreeBasics.com.
Facebook has also added 60+ services to the platform.
Starting today, people using the app or mobile web version can navigate to a menu where they can select which services to add to their list of free services. They can also search for a service by name or description.