The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has welcomed the TRAI’s decision, but the likes of Facebook and COAI are disappointed
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | February 11, 2016
Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) said in a press statement: “The broadcasting industry is appreciative of TRAI’s decision to rule out differential pricing. IBF has earlier opposed differential pricing terming it to be ‘non-competitive’.”
IBF in its response to the consultation paper had clearly stated that such discriminatory entry barriers would lead to “reduced scope of consumer choice, inducing artificial scarcity”.
Girish Srivastava, Secretary General, IBF said, “In our opinion, TRAI’s regulation on prohibiting differential pricing constitutes a milestone as it was against the basic principle of internet access as no private player should have the power and right to decide which information can be accessed and which is less easily available.”
However, Rajan Mathews, Director General, COAI, expressed disappointment with the decision. He said, “The telecom industry is disappointed with TRAI’s decision to rule out differential pricing. COAI had approached the regulator with the reasons to allow price differentiation as the move would have taken us closer to connecting the one billion unconnected citizens of India. By opting to turn away from this opportunity, TRAI has ignored all the benefits of price differentiation that we had submitted as part of the industry’s response to its consultation paper, including improving economic efficiency, increase in broadband penetration, reduction in customer costs and provision of essential services among other things.”
Mathews further said, “In our opinion, TRAI’s regulation on prohibiting differential pricing constitutes a welfare-reducing measure of high concern by blocking a possible avenue for our less-advantaged citizens to move to increased economic growth and prosperity by harnessing the power of the Internet. We believe that this measure will have an impact on the Government’s ambitious Digital India initiative.”
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was obviously disappointed. He expressed his comments on his Facebook page.
When asked for a comment, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Our goal with Free Basics is to bring more people online with an open, non-exclusive and free platform. While disappointed with the outcome, we will continue our efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the internet and the opportunities it brings.”
Facebook’s Free Basics is available in more than three dozen countries and through their efforts; they have connected more than 19 million people to date. Post the TRAI decision, Internet.org has many approaches to connecting people, including using solar powered aircraft, satellites and local Wi-Fi access.
Zuckerberg’s statement reads:
“Everyone in the world should have access to the internet. That's why we launched Internet.org with so many different initiatives -- including extending networks through solar-powered planes, satellites and lasers, providing free data access through Free Basics, reducing data use through apps, and empowering local entrepreneurs through Express Wi-Fi.
“Today India's telecom regulator decided to restrict programs that provide free access to data. This restricts one of Internet.org's initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programs by other organizations that provide free access to data.
“While we're disappointed with today's decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet.
Our work with Internet.org around the world has already improved many people's lives. More than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through our different programs.
“Connecting India is an important goal we won't give up on, because more than a billion people in India don't have access to the internet. We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that's why we're so committed to connecting them.
“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India.”
Many took to Twitter to express their opinion. Here is a look at some tweets by Vijay Shekhar, Founder of Paytm, and Mahesh Murthy, investor in startups and advisor to brands:
On @facebook Free Basics & @airtelindia Zero & differential pricing - they're all banned! Thanks TRAI... WE WON!!! — Mahesh Murthy (@maheshmurthy) February 8, 2016