How can Nasscom talk about differential pricing and net neutrality in one sentence? Why can’t they take a *FOR-INNOVATION* side?
The dominant social networking site has now launched a ‘Save Free Basics’ campaign which entices the users to support the campaign and agree to a pre-written message and send it to TRAI. The notification already shows which friends of yours have agreed and asks ‘you too’, to agree.
The content-usage policies are exactly similar to what net neutrality activists feared the most—by bundling both data and talk time into a single package Reliance Jio could be treading on non-neutral lines.
Zuckerberg breaks the ice on the ongoing net neutrality debate in India at a Q&A held at IIT-D: “Facebook supports all principles of net neutrality, even though countries are still working on developing a standard rule”. Free Basics is a ‘discovery platform’ that helps people connect to the internet for free, he adds.
Facebook will launch “connectivity lab”, which is looking at Drones and unmanned aerial vehicle to lower the cost of service to people without infrastructure.Also rolling out a kind of Wi-Fi service at a lower cost in India. Facebook’s Internet.org is potentially an anti net-neutrality play.
So far only Facebook has tried to prevent the IAMAI from taking a stand against Zero Rating services. The company has pushed for the removal of any mention of Zero Rating from the IAMAI’s submission on Net Neutrality. Earlier the DoT committee had advised against having services such as Internet.org.
Facebook users in India have been seeing a pop-up message asking them to support Internet.org. However, the message lacks the option to answer with ‘no’ and instead only allows users to postpone hitting ‘yes’. The move comes at a time when the DoT panel on Net Neutrality proposed against having services such as Internet.org in India.
The DoT’s report on net neutrality has said that Zero rate plans would have to offer the same terms for all content providers if they are to be free. The report added that any attempt to control the content provided to users would violate the principles of net neutrality and TRAI would step in to ensure that they are upheld.
The report should come as a huge blow to telcos who have been lobbying for zero rating services. Further, the panel said that OTT services should be encouraged and that impediments should be removed from their path of growth. While the restrictions on VoIP calling will remain, no other restrictions can be placed on them.
The report added that collaborations between content providers and telecom operators that create a gate-keeper should be discouraged. Internet.org is now open to all developers but is still present only to user’s of Relaince’s network. Airtel Zero has drawn a lot of flak and it’s approval will find a lot of resistance from Net Neutrality activists.
The report calls for regulation of OTT services in order to maintain fair play in the telecom sector. Telcos claim they are losing revenues to OTT services and that India’s broadband infrastructure can’t handle the unhindered growth of such services. The report has been submitted to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for his approval.
The Indian government is currently waiting for telecom regulator TRAI’s take on the issue. The issue of Net Neutrality took over Indian social media streams after Zero Rating services such as Airtel Zero broke cover. Majority of the public support has been in favour of banning Zero Rating services.
The move comes soon after the Internet.org initiative was targeted for being anti net neutrality because it provided access only to a select number of websites and services. Facebook claimed that it chose the previous group of partners in order to build a simple and data efficient offering, however since consumer choice is of great importance, it is opening up the platform to other developers.
The controversial campaign was started on April 22, and was widely accused of not making the COAI’s support of Zero Rating services clear. The COAI used SMS and voice calls to gather the public’s support, and says it intentionally used the medium in order to reach users who might not yet have access to the Internet. The COAI added that over 40 lakh people showed support for the cause, while a little over 10% chose to opt out.
TRAI released a list of nearly a million email IDs from which it received responses for Net Neutrality. Anonymous claimed responsibility of the attack, claiming it did so through a DDoS attack and was close to hacking the site. The public has taken to twitter to protest how TRAI could slip up and make such a large number of email IDs public, and open to attack from spammers and other offenders.
The COAI has launched its #sabkainternet campaign which borders on tricking people into rooting for zero rating services as supporting net neutrality. While there’s nothing wrong with the COAI pushing the agenda for zero rating services, the way the campaign has been structured is nothing short of being shady.