NET NEUTRALITY

TRAI says no to Facebook's Free Basics in India

Trai-freebasics Facebook's Free Basics service has been criticised by net neutrality campaigners | Reuters
  • No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content—Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

India’s telecom watchdog on Monday ruled against differential pricing for internet services, blocking Facebook's Free Basics scheme in India.

The Free Basics scheme, which offered free access to hand-picked websites through Facebook's deals with phone companies, was opposed by net neutrality supporters. They argued that Facebook cannot dictate terms for using internet by giving it free to people and then telling them how to use it.

"No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content," ruled the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in an apparent underpinning to the argument of net neutrality supporters.

TRAI, however, said a service provider may reduce tariff for providing emergency services but it should be reported to the authority within seven working days.

The telecom regulator said it would order companies to withdraw such differential tariffs immediately and if they don't, a penalty of Rs 50,000 will be charged every day till they change.

TRAI also said, "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."

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