Here’s Everything You Should Know About Net Neutrality And Free Basics

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NetNeutrality

The heating arguments between TRAI and the telecom companies are increasing rapidly. Net Neutrality and the Free Basics campaign is at loggerheads and the people are stuck in-between. It has become quite difficult for us to decide which side to support. So, to make it easier, here is the nitty-gritty of both the policies.

Net Neutrality

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Well, almost of you must know about this term. And for those who do not know, Net Neutrality means free and unbiased access to all the web portals and sites.  India does not have any such laws regarding net neutrality, but this year, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) decided to propose rules pertaining to Net Neutrality. The following are its key points:

  1. Net Neutrality requires that all Internet users be treated equally, without discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
  2. In March 2015, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a formal consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services, seeking comments from the public.
  3. There have already been a few violations of Net Neutrality principles by some Indian service providers.
  4. If Net Neutrality does not sustain, then users will have to pay different prices for different websites and applications. Without Net Neutrality, differential tariff system will prevail which will abstain the users from using the internet freely.
  5. TRAI has invited people to give their comments about Net Neutrality as to, whether they want it or not and what is their take on it. People can give their opinions by going on TRAI’s official website.

Free Basics

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Many of you must be wondering these days, why a Facebook notification is asking you to support Free Basics. Here is the answer:

This proposal was put forward by Facebook and it includes plans to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries by increasing efficiency, and facilitating the development of new business models around the provision of Internet access. The vital elements of this scheme are the following:

  1. Free Basics is actually an extension of the policy, Internet.org. Internet.org is a partnership between social networking services, i.e., Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia, and Qualcomm). It is about imparting internet access in the remote areas.
  2. People in support of net neutrality are against Free Basics because they think free basics will actually violate the policies of net neutrality. Facebook has tied up with other telecom companies (telcos.) to provide free internet in the remote areas. In lieu of the funds spent on providing free internet to use Facebook, these telcos. will charge extra to the users for using other websites. This is the main argument of net neutrality that, in this way, the internet will not be equal for all.
  3. If Facebook will become free of cost, it will intrigue more users. This will actually escalate the number of Facebook users and will also promote the revenues of the telcos. Smart approach, isn’t it?
  4. The term “free” actually means that Facebook, in particular, will be free. Simply put, users will have to pay extra bucks for other internet services like calls on Whatsapp, Skype, and so on.
  5. Nowadays, a Facebook notification is asking its users to send a “pre-written” message to TRAI in support of Free Basics in India. Unlike TRAI, Facebook is not asking for an opinion, but out rightly directing the users to send a message in favour of this policy. Also, a very few people must be au courant that Facebook wants this policy to be formulated in India, but it is showing the same notification to the users in other countries as well. Basically, Facebook is taking a good advantage of its market presence.

TRAI does not want Free Basics to be embarked in India and Facebook, on the other front, is doing whatever it takes to implement this plan. This whole write-up was based on the initiative to make everyone aware about this whole debate.

Being responsible citizens and netizens, we all must raise our voice and give our opinion on this whole dispute. TRAI has invited comments from everyone till 31st December 2015.

We all can take out a few minutes of our lives to give our review and we must do it.

Go to the website www.savetheinternet.in, evaluate the given information carefully and give your response.

The future of the internet is in our hands.

Akanksha Sharma

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