Facebook Renames Internet.org To ‘Free Basics’
Facebook has defended its ‘Free Basics’ service, previously known as internet.org, in response to the Indian telecom regulator’s consultation paper on zero rating and free data plans, saying its app is non-discriminatory, non-exclusive and open to all developers.
“We are committed to working with Trai to uphold the principles of affordable and innovative internet access for India in a fair and consistent manner,” Kevin Martin, vice-president, mobile and global access policy, at Facebook, said in a statement.
The social networking giant’s statement comes a day after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) once again raising the issue of net neutrality through its consultation paper on differential pricing for data services. “We hope those involved in this discussion consider the broader consequences of halting or limiting programs that help people,” the Facebook statement said.
Trai’s consultation paper seeks to discuss whether zero rating plans and bundling of certain data free or at a discounted rate by telecom service providers, is discriminatory, anti-competitive, predatory and misleading.
Without naming any specific programmes or even mentioning the word net neutrality, the paper said some plans could allow telecom operators to be ‘gatekeepers’ who can decide the fate of content providers.
Instead, Trai has suggested alternatives wherein the telecom service provider could provide all data free or at discounted rates for some time or for certain volume.
It had also proposed that if a content provider wanted to provide free content, it should reimburse the browsing charges to all of its customers irrespective of which telecom network they use.