India has banned zero-rated internet services including Facebook’s Free Basics Internet service.
No more Free Basics!
Mobile carriers and broadband providers have been banned to charge their clients according to the services and content they have access to on the Internet. The decision of the new regulation was revealed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016, stipulates that “no service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content“. As a consequence, Free Basics of Facebook is no more an option, and the same goes for any zero-rated internet service.
What are zero-rated internet services?
The term applies to those services through which customers can have access to certain websites without using up their mobile data allowance.
Free Basics is an example of this: it is a service provided by Facebook to allow people access to a number of Web services that it hosts for free.
This is deemed to be discriminatory to other sites and services. Free Basics was already a bone of contention in India because it was not in line with Net Neutrality principles that dictate that people are discouraged from visiting other websites when certain services are offered for free. Net Neutrality’s arguments in this context focus on the negative impacts of such services on competitors.