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TRAI releases consultation paper on free data

The consultation paper intends to explore model(s) that could achieve benefits of offering free data while avoiding ingenuity

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | May 23, 2016

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) still seems to have some queries on differential pricing and free data. After issuing a consultation paper on differential pricing for data services in February 2016, the regulator is back with another consultation paper on ‘free data.’

This paper focuses on how a model(s) could achieve the benefits of offering free data while avoiding the ingenuity that the ‘Differential Tariff Regulation’ is meant to prevent. The model should not allow the TSP to be biased while keeping in mind the interest of the un-connected consumer.

A model could provide reward to consumers through a TSP agnostic platform. Some examples being:  (1) Discovery Apps dedicated to providing rewards in return for engagement; such as mCent, Gigato, Taskbucks, Ladoo, EarnTalktime, Pokkt and many more and (2) Rewards platforms that can enable any app/site to offer rewards for desired action or even mobile data rewards for everyday activities like paying electricity bill on time or checking out of the hotel on time etc.

Another possible model could be a similar one to the rewards based model with another equivalent ‘don’t charge’ or toll free API. In the model, where recharge is happening based on action, it’s hard to know the cost of data for a given user. For instance, suppose Person A is on 1GB data pack costing Rs. 250, and Person B is on the tariff of 10 paise per 10 Kb. If the data consumed in one session of Internet surfing is 50 MB, Person A incurs Rs. 12.20 whereas Person B incurs Rs. 512. This is nearly 42 times the cost incurred by Person A. In the toll-free model, given the data used is not getting billed to the mobile subscriber, true cost of data is covered without any confusion.

There may be other possible solutions to provide free data or suitable reimbursement to users, without violating the principles of Differential Pricing for Data laid down in TRAI Regulation. The objective of this consultation is to explore such models and frame regulations to facilitate them.

Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO and Founder, DataWind Inc, welcomed the consultation paper by TRAI regarding Free Data. According to him, “The key barrier to getting broad internet adoption in India is breaking the affordability barrier.  This will require innovate out-of-the-box business models, and this consultation-paper from TRAI is an important step towards exploring such solutions to provide free data.”

“This is a very progressive step to address the forgotten billions, who are our largest constituent of digital age today,” said Tuli.

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Tags: TRAI
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