Free Basics vs Free Net: Who will be the winner?

By February 8th, 2016 AT 3:11 PM

At a press conference today, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is likely to take a strong stance on net neutrality amid speculations that the telecom regulator will bar zero-rated products such as Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero.

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According to Economic Times, TRAI is likely “to disallow subsidised data packages that offer access to only a select services, such as Whatsapp or Twitter, packages which are currently offered by various telcos to attract subscribers.”

This announcement will be a significant win for the supporters of free net in the country, however, it would be a setback for the telcos and social networking giant Facebook who have backed differential pricing of data services.

Last year, country’s top telco Bharti Airtel dealt a severe blow after it launched its zero-rated product Airtel Zero. Following the backlash, it was forced to put the product on the back-burner. Critics say that the initiatives by Facebook and Airtel were aimed at creating two types of Internet free and paid and these go against the principle of net neutrality.

Yesterday, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that the government would take a call on Facebook’s Free Basics service and other zero-rating initiatives considering India’s best interest.

Having over six years of experience in business journalism, Krishna has a knack for writing on telecom and IT. She believes that tryst with technology is the best thing that has ever happened to the mankind. Krishna is a telecom analyst with CMR

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