Govt will not allow Free Basics Model
The move comes after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) suggested to ban discriminatory differential pricing for data services by various stakeholders.
Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad informed media about the government’s stand on Tuesday.
TRAI on Monday had ruled out prohibition of ‘discriminatory tariffs for data services’, which means telecom service providers (TSPs) or companies like Facebook cannot vary the content that is being offered by them to their users. Prasad said Internet must have linkage with locals and must be available without any discrimination.
It further added that none of the service providers must enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract which impacts discriminatory tariffs for data services that are being offered on the basis of content.
This in turn will disallow subsidised data packages which offer only selected services, for instance, Whatsapp or Twitter, packages that are presently offered by different telcos for attracting subscribers.
The regulation is not going to be applied on tariffs for data services which span over closed communication networks. It will only be applicable if the tariffs offered evade prohibition of this regulation. TRAI has offered service providers six months’ time to comply with the new rules.
TRAI ‘s decision comes as a big blow to telcos that have backed differential pricing of data services and social networking giant Facebook that had famously backed and promoted Free Basics products via print and TV advertorials.