CHENNAI: Telecom sector watchdog Trai on Monday finally ended uncertainty, once and for all, on net neutrality by barring telecom and Internet service providers from deciding how much users must pay everytime they access a service or an application on the Internet.
Currently, Internet is charged on the basis of speed — higher price for faster speed and lower price for low speed. Once you buy an Internet pack, you don’t have to pay for accessing YouTube, WhatsApp, or Twitter.
What telcos and platforms like Free Basics proposed was to provide a basic Internet package with select applications for free or at a lower price and charge a differential (read high) price for the rest of the services.
For instance, let’s say you get a `50 basic Internet package bundled with Facebook and WhatsApp free of cost. But everytime you want to search Google, check mails, or book a rail ticket online, you will end up paying more.
This discriminatory pricing is what Trai prevented service providers from charging users.
Trai’s decision is a big setback for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. For weeks, Zuckerberg and his team ran a high-voltage campaign publicising Free Basics and why India should support the same. Essentially, such a platform curbs Internet freedom and has been opposed by none other than Internet founder Sir Tim Berners Lee himself.
Going a step ahead, Trai has even provided for a penalty of `50,000 per day on service providers if they flout the order. This penalty would be subject to a maximum of `50 lakh.
Trai’s order is final and binding, and will be reviewed after two years. However, service providers may challenge the order and take legal recourse, said analysts.