Trai Bars Differential Pricing of Data Services, Win for Net Neutrality
The Telecom Regulatory Athority of India (TRAI), today has announced final guidelines on differential pricing. Ruling heavily in favour of Net Neutrality, TRAI has said, ” No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content”
The telecom sector regulator with this ruling has barred differential pricing of data products, which effectively will mean that controversial zero-rating ideas such as Facebook’s Free Basics won’t be allowed to kick-off in the country.
TRAI also looks increasingly likely to disallow subsidised data packages already on offer which allow services, such as Whatsapp or Twitter etc to be availed at discounted prices through special packages.
The Regulator has warned operators that they cannot enter into any arrangement based on discriminatory pricing failing which they could be fined upwards of Rs 50,000 a day.
“Prohibition of discriminatory tariff is necessary to ensure that service providers continue to fulfill obligations in keeping internet open and non-discriminatory,” TRAI said.
This particular decision by TRAI will come as bad news for telecom operators who have been increasingly looking at differential pricing of data services as a source of increasing revenues. It will also come as a huge blow to social networking giant, Facebook which has invested heavily in Free Basics.