More reports on: Telecom

Facebook joins telcos in favour of differential pricing

13 January 2016

Facebook has become the only internet firm to join telecom operators in favour of differential pricing for data services amid a debate over net neutrality principles. The social media giant supports differential pricing of data services - a key issue under net neutrality principles in India.

Facebook submitted its comments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, saying, ''The short answer is yes. Differential pricing, as the term is used in the consultation paper, should generally continue to be allowed.''

Trai is holding consultations before it finally comes up with recommendations for the net neutrality rules. Differential pricing for data services is also getting support from telecom operators.

Facebook's Free Basics is a zero-rating platform in partnership with telecom operators that allows access to content or applications hosted on it without any charges.

Differential pricing of data or zero-rating platforms attracted opposition from the Indian IT industry through industry body Nasscom, internet firms through IAMAI and many internet forums. Google,

Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are some of the members of IAMAI.

People opposing a differential pricing regime argue that zero-rating platforms lock the freedom of users in accessing content over the internet and also impose limits on their access to applications or content.

At the end of the first round of comments, TRAI received about 24 lakh comments, and 80 per cent of them came through a Facebook campaign, which the social network launched to defend its free Internet platform, Free Basics.

Supporting zero-rating plans, Facebook said such plans will increase the rate of internet adoption, and that without any cost to the government, content providers or consumers. The US firm said it is in support of the core principal of net neutrality, which includes ''prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.''

''Those jurisdictions that have engaged in extensive deliberation over zero rating, including the EU and the US, have concluded that adoption of net neutrality rules does not require banning zero rating,'' Facebook added.

Providing free internet services without content restrictions will have limited benefits because telecom operators will be required to impose a limit in terms of data consumed or download speed or time until it will be free, Facebook said.

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