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India may roll out free internet to all

The Indian telecom watchdog on Thursday floated a consultation paper in an effort to explore transparent models that can achieve benefits of free data.

The paper asks whether free data can be provided to users without violating its previous order that banned discriminatory pricing for some content and websites.

This move is aimed at giving consumers more choices for accessing the Internet, according to a posting on the regulator’s website.

“This consultation paper is being issued to explore model(s) that could achieve the benefits of offering free data while avoiding the ingenuity that the Differential Tariff Regulation is meant to prevent,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) consultation paper on free data said here.

The model should facilitate the unconnected and under-connected consumer to become better connected and should not allow any telecom service provider (TSP) or large company playing a gatekeeper or biased role, the paper asserted.

“The model should use the principles of open, transparent and equal access to consumer services by all consumers and all businesses. TRAI believes that the proposed model should not hold back innovation and the opportunity to increase Internet penetration and usage,” it added.

In a move seen as an endorsement of net neutrality, TRAI on February 8 said no to discriminatory pricing of data content.

“No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content,” TRAI had said in a much-awaited regulatory order.

“No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content,” the watchdog had said.

July 4, 2016

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