Facebook Supports Differential Pricing of Data

Amid a debate over net neutrality, Facebook has become the only Internet firm to say yes to differential pricing.

Tech News
2 min read
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook in India in 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Amid a debate over net neutrality principles, Facebook has become the only Internet firm to side with telecom operators over the issue of differential pricing of data services.

The social media giant, with its own controversy-ridden zero rating platforms, Free Basics, has favoured allowing differential pricing of data services, a key issue under net neutrality principles.

The short answer is yes. Differential pricing, as the term is used in the consultation paper, should generally continue to be allowed.

Facebook to TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is holding consultation before framing up of recommendations for net neutrality rules. The telecom operators too have favoured differential pricing for data services.

Facebook’s Free Basics, a zero rating platform, allows access to content or application hosted on it for free in partnership with telecom operator. The Indian IT Industry through Nasscom, Internet firms though IAMAI and many Internet forums have opposed differential pricing of data or zero rating platforms. IAMAI members include Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.

As per people opposing differential pricing regime, zero rating platforms locks the freedom of user in accessing content over Internet and limits their access to application or content that are offered for free on the discretion of the company owning it.

At the end of first round of comments, TRAI has received about 24 lakh comments of which close to 80 percent are through a campaign launched by Facebook to defend its free Internet platform Free Basics. The firm said that it supports core principle of net neutrality.

The social media major said that providing free Internet services without content restrictions is likely to have limited benefits because telecom operators will need to impose limit in terms of data consumed or download speed or time till when it will be free.

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