A day after Facebook brewed fresh controversy by misguiding its users to support the Free Basics plan, the net neutrality advocates (#netneutrality) in India hit back with their campaign on the website SaveTheInternet.in.
The campaign will allow Indian citizens to show their support on net neutrality in India and write to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on why services like Airtel Zero and Internet.org (or Free Basics Plan in India).
After closing the first round of comments in August this year, TRAI has issued another consultation paper asking once again, if we want Net Neutrality. This time, it's about whether or not differential pricing should be allowed with a special focus on Airtel Zero and Internet.org type services.
The website allows Indian citizens to write to write to TRAI, on why they think net neutrality is important, and if or not services like Airtel Zero and Internet.org should be allowed to exist.
Airtel had started Airtel Zero in April this year, which would allow application providers to make their services available to Indian mobile subscribers on Airtel network, without attracting any data charges. The service is open to all application providers just like Facebook’s Free Basics Plan in India, but unlike Facebook, which claims it won’t charge any amount to those using its platform, Airtel has stated that application providers will be required to pay it a certain amount to make those services available for free.
Airtel has received criticism for its plan, largely because, experts claim that with differential pricing for different sites, with some sites costing zero, and others not, it has violated Net Neutrality.
The website allows users to submit pre-written answers (with the option of editing them) to four questions asked by TRAI. The answers explain why net neutrality is important, and offers alternatives to differential pricing and services like Airtel Zero and Internet.org. One such alternative, it says, could be offering “equal rated” plans that are deployed by the Government via deployment of the USO fund and creation of a national fiber optic network. It also calls for offering a free allowance of mobile data for each citizen funded through a universal service fund.
All comments submitted through the website, will be sent to TRAI and copy of it will be retained by Savetheinternet.inTRAI is taking written comments on net neutrality till December 30, and counter comments by January 7 from various stakeholders.