The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday extended the last date for submission of comments on its paper on differential data pricing to January 7 from December 30. Similarly, the last date for counter-comments has been pushed to January 14.
In a statement, the regulator said the last date for receipt of written comments had been extended on requests of stakeholders and no further extensions would be allowed.
The consultation paper raises concern over zero-rating tariff models — a practice wherein service providers offer free data to users for select applications and websites — and the paper has become key to the debate on Net neutrality. According to Internet activists, this model violates the principle of Net neutrality as it restricts access to free, open Internet. Facebook’s Free Basic initiative has come under severe criticism in India as it is based on a zero-rating model. TRAI has also asked Reliance Communication, Facebook’s partner in India for Free Basics, to put the service on hold till the authority considers all the details and terms and conditions of the service.
Meanwhile, in its response to TRAI on the paper, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on Wednesday said differential pricing violates not only principles of Net neutrality but also TRAI’s own stated principles of pricing that tariffs should be non-discriminatory, transparent, non-anti-competitive, non-predatory, non-ambiguous and non-misleading.
On Tuesday, founders and CEOs of nine start-ups, including Paytm, Zomato and GoQii, wrote to TRAI Chairman R.S. Sharma pitching for an open Internet while seeking “clear regulations” on the issue of differential pricing for data services.