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Differential data pricing: Trai floats consultation paper

Amid debate over zero-rating plans and telecom firms offering discounted tariffs for accessing certain websites, TRAI on Wednesday came out with a consultation paper seeking comments on whether such differential pricing should be allowed.

If yes, the sectoral regulator asked what steps should be taken to ensure principles of non-discrimination, transparency, affordable Internet access, competition, market entry and innovation are adhered to.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said some plans introduced in the recent past amount to differential tariff plans that offer zero or discounted tariffs to certain content of select websites or applications or platforms.

According to a TRAI official, some of the operators are offering plans where they give discounted tariffs to access certain applications like WhatsApp, Facebook and the like, and there are certain platforms that allow access to certain websites free of cost.

Airtel Zero is an open marketing platform that allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free, with data charges being paid by start-ups and large firms. Similarly, Facebook’s Internet.Org allows access to certain websites without mobile data charges.

TRAI said the objective of offering such schemes is claimed to be the desire of various service, content or platform providers to enable users, especially the poor, to access certain content on the Internet free of charge.

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