India's telecom watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has taken a stand on differential pricing and said that no company could charge discriminatory tariff for data on the basis of content and the rule will be made effective immediately.
After going through millions of responses, TRAI has upheld 'Net Neutrality' and has said no to discriminatory pricing. TRAI's decision will come as a huge setback for Facebook's Free Basics. The company has been at loggerheads with TRAI saying Free Basics will give free internet to millions of internet users.
TRAIâ€™s decision means that all data prices must be uniform, and companies cannot give content at cheaper rates.
TRAI suspended Free Basics a few weeks ago, arguing that it violates the principle of net neutrality.
Indiaâ€™s stand on net neutrality comes after the US, Chile, Netherlands and Brazil adopted net neutrality that doesn't allow discrimination of Internet content.
This regulation will be effective from now and will be reviewed every two years.
In a press conference, TRAI officials informed that the decision would be made effective through a gazette notification immediately. According to TRAI, allowing differential pricing to service providers for data would compromise the entire architecture of the internet. TRAI further said no new launches of prohibited packs/ plans or vouchers shall be permitted, reports Moneycontrol.
Telecom players who violate net neutrality will be fined anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 50,00,000.
However, service providers have been allowed to reduce tariff for access in case of providing emergency services.
"We have not defined emergency services. But in case of such services, operators have to inform Trai within 7 working days," said TRAI secretary. .
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in December 2015 extended the deadline for receiving comments on its paper on differential data pricing by a week, to January 7, 2016.
TRAI had released a 11-page consultation paper on differential pricing in December seeking industry stakeholders comments about arriving at different alternatives to zero-rated services or services that can have the same effect but would keep the internet free and neutral.