The Internet And Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), in its submission to TRAI’s consultation paper, has said differential pricing for data usage for accessing different websites, applications and platforms by telecom operators should not be allowed as it violates the principles of Net Neutrality. It adds that the practice will be anti competitive for other platforms.
The internet body also stated that the pricing models suggested by TRAI in the consultation paper contravene the regulatory authority’s own stated principles of being non discriminatory, transparent, competitive, non-predatory, non ambiguous and not misleading.
Earlier in December, the TRAI issued another consultation paper on net neutrality, asking whether telecom operators should be allowed to charge differently for different websites, focused purely on the price discrimination aspect. This was a follow up to a consultation paper it put out in May this year.
Alternatives models proposed
IAMAI also proposed a number of alternative models that can provide free or discounted Internet access to people which do not violate the principles of net neutrality. Some of them are:
Customer Subsidy Mechanisms: Subsidy schemes as adopted under the flagship Government schemes such as MGNREGA could be adopted to provide free data to the customers. Free internet coupons can be given to consumers who can select which apps or websites to use.
Time Based Model: Operators can provide hourly and daily passes for access to its WiFi network
Freemium Models: Under this model the service providers can offer managed service for public locations (e.g., coffee shops, hotels, airports, stadiums, railway stations) that want to provide free access to their customers and employees.
Wholesale Model: Internet providers can form partnerships with venue owners so they could propose WiFi networks with a discounted or free model to the end customers. In this model the operator shares the investment costs and revenue with the venue partners.
Community Hotspots: This model is popular in western countries where the WiFi connections at home hubs enable users to share their WiFi signals with others.
In Transit Model: IAMAI also said that there is a demand for WiFi roaming among a broad base of consumers, including those who don’t use data at all while roaming for fear of bill shock. Public transport such as bus, train and cabs can be WiFi enabled.