The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has ruled in favour of Net Neutrality putting an end to a long on-going debate. The authority has announced that “no service provider can offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content”. TRAI has ordered the same under ‘Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulation’.
The body further stated that a telecom service provider may reduce tariff for accessing or providing emergency services. The regulator, which warned the operators that they cannot enter into any arrangement based on discriminatory pricing, also said that operators will be fined between Rs. 50,000-50 lakh if the ruling is violated. For those unaware, differential pricing means charging customers different prices for access to different websites and services. The regulations come into effect immediately. TRAI further mentioned that “no service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person… that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content.” The authority may review these regulations after a period of two years.
The latest ruling brings a major blow to Facebook’s Free Basics and zero rated product like Airtel Zero. Internet experts and critics had argued that allowing access to a select few apps and web services for free violates the principle of net neutrality which means websites and data on the Internet should be treated equally without any discrimination.
Check out the complete TRAI report here.