The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is conducting an open house today at the Lakshmipat Singhania Auditorium, PHD House, Delhi, to discuss their consultation paper on differential pricing for data services. The event is scheduled to commence at 2PM today.
The event is expected to shed more light on their stance on the hotly-contested subject of Net Neutrality, especially as applicable to Facebook’s Free Basics platform. Only recently, the TRAI responded in strict terms to the manner in which these responses were sent by Facebook regarding their controversial zero-rated service, one that the social media giant claims is aimed at enabling basic access to Web services to those who cannot afford to pay for data.
The fact that Facebook did not actually make specific mention of the key questions raised by TRAI in their consultation paper before sending responses on behalf of millions of their users did not bode well with the country’s telecom regulator. In the letter to Ankhi Das, Facebook’s Public Policy Director for India, TRAI’s Joint Adviser K.V. Sebastian went on to state that their response submission exercise “has the flavor of reducing this meaningful consultative exercise designed to produce informed decisions in a transparent manner into a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll.”
The outcome of this open house should shed light on the direction that TRAI is likely to take regarding Facebook’s Free Basics platform in particular and on Net Neutrality in the country in general. While nations such as the Netherlands, Chile, Brazil and the US have already adopted a strong stance against preferential Web content or differential pricing of data services, India’s stance on the subject is still being hotly debated.