Free Basics

A constant debate is going on in India about Net Neutrality, and a fight between Free Basics by facebook and people who support Net Neutrality. In between such a situation, Telecom operators have chosen to back differential pricing for different data services. If that is actually implemented, it will make it hard for all users to connect to each and every service, and will kill the hope of Net Neutrality in India.

Differential Pricing by Telecom Operators

The differential pricing started with Airtel charging its customers for calls made via the popular instant messaging app WhatsApp. They took down this charging when their customers revolted. After this, the Airtel Zero, a platform that provided free data access stirred the debate. Lastly, the Internet.Org campaign by Facebook, now called Free Basics, is what got the entire argument to lead to the stage that it is.

Quoting the telecom companies, they said, “We firmly believe that the differential pricing is critical for promoting innovation in the Internet ecosystem, bringing more people online and for greater digital equality, digital economy, digital infrastructure, digital empowerment and promoting government and services on demand.

Justifying the differential pricing for data services, the Telecoms compared the differential pricing with deals of mobile phone companies to sell on only one e-commerce platform, or tatkal tickets offered at a higher price by Indian Railways for traveling in the same train or the high price of the mineral water bottles in multiplexes.

The belief that telecom operators have is something that the entire country is opposing. Everyone wants net neutrality, and access to all the content on the internet for one basic fee that they are already paying.

On one part, I can agree that differential pricing for say, using Google search for searching, and then heading over to any link that it redirects to will be beneficial in connecting the entire country to the world of internet. But other than this, nothing else would be a good move. Even in the rural areas, if people are given basic access at a cheaper rate, that would be better than having differential pricing for all the customers. Again, this is just my opinion about the topic and how I feel about all this.

Conclusion

It is impossible to conclude this ongoing debate, but net neutrality allows users to access everything on the internet, without any discrimination whatsoever. Allowing telecom operators to carry out differential pricing for different data services will mean the death of Net Neutrality in India, which will prevent innovation in the long run.