tech2 News StaffFeb 08, 2016 19:22:42 IST
TRAI is finally out with its notification on differential pricing. In the meeting held today, TRAI has made its stand clear that "no company to offer/charge discriminatory tariffs for data on basis of content". This move is a big win for net neutrality.
TRAI said that anything on the Internet cannot be differentially priced and no operator shall charge discriminatory pricing on content, source and application. The existing plans in operation will not be valid in 6 months. Along with the ban on differential pricing, TRAI will determine if attempts are being made to violate regulations. TRAI is essentially attempting to put everything on the Internet on an agnostic platform. Internet companies, however, will not fall under TRAI's domain.
Only exception in the TRAI ruling is regarding emergency services. "Reduced tariff for accessing or providing emergency services, or at times of public emergency has been permitted," said the ruling.
The regulation will be effective immediately and disallows any programs that allows discriminatory data tariffs. A penalty of upto Rs 50 lakh will be applicable for each day of violation of regulation.
Regulations will come into effect immediately: TRAI chairman RS Sharma on TRAI supporting net neutrality
— Firstpost (@firstpost) February 8, 2016
For those uninitiated, it began with TRAI floating a consultation paper seeking views if differential pricing should be allowed, amidst the whole net neutrality debate. The regulator wanted to know what steps should be taken to ensure principles of non-discrimination, affordable Internet access, competition and so on if differential pricing is allowed. After some media coverage connecting differential pricing to net neutrality, Trai quickly put out a statement saying the paper issued is not on net neutrality, but on a specific matter about differential pricing.
However, there is no denying that both are co-related. Now, differential pricing means, different prices for different content aka apps, which violates net neutrality. So, differential pricing and net neutrality go hand-in-hand. And, we can say the same about Free Basics or any other similar platform. Differential pricing won’t just change the way we’ve always used Internet, but blatantly unfair and discriminating.The paper floated by TRAI received 24 lakh responses.
Telcos had written to TRAI, explaining differential pricing is essential for promoting innovation and growth of data services, and find support from Facebook. On the other hand, most voices out there, from startups to netizens, are against differential pricing. Most reports pointed that TRAI will be in favour of net neutrality.
Here is the complete TRAI release:
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