Net neutrality: India cools Facebook’s ambitions in Internet access with its “Free Basic” service

by bold-lichterman

Setback for Facebook’s ambitions in low-cost Internet access. The firm of Mark Zuckerberg had launched in India, as part of its project, the service “Free Basics», Which offers its users access to several basic Internet services: reading news, consulting the weather forecast, local job offers, access to Facebook or even instant messengers such as Messenger.

A limited Internet access service that is obviously not to the taste of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the telecoms gendarme in the country, who has just published a document prohibiting offering different tariffs depending on the access to the content offered: “No service provider should offer or apply discriminatory tariffs to data services on the basis of the content”, we read, otherwise operators could be penalized by fines.

Such a system would go against the principle of Net neutrality, say opponents of the project. At the end of December, Mark Zuckerberg published a column in the Times of India in which he felt: “In any society there are certain basic services which are so important for the well-being of people that we hope that everyone can access them freely”. The founder of Facebook also specified that around thirty countries “have recognized Free Basics as a program compatible with net neutrality and good for consumers”.