Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the industry body for the internet and mobile VAS ecosystem, has released a statement strongly critical of differential pricing.
Responding to a recent TRAI consultation paper titled “Consultation Paper on Differential Pricing”, the IAMAI said that the differential pricing violates not only principles of net neutrality but TRAI’s own stated principles of pricing.
The three models of differential pricing offered by TRAI are: A) When the service provider selects the content, which is offered free or bundled together at reduced rates. B) In which one content provider creates a platform where other content providers can apply, and be selected. The platform creator then partners with service provider(s) to provide free Internet access to participating content providers, for the subscribers of those service providers. C) In which operators charge differently for certain types of internet apps over others [On-Network terminated calls].
According to the IAMAI, all three models violate basic principles of net neutrality.
Commenting on the paper, IAMAI president, Dr. Subho Ray stated, “In addition to being against net neutrality, the differential pricing models suggested by TRAI prima facie also violate the regulators own stated principles of intervening in pricing”.
These principles as stated in the paper are non-discriminatory, transparent, non-anti competitive, non-predatory, non-ambiguous and non-misleading, added the statement. “Most of the models suggested by TRAI seem to violate one or all of these principles,” Dr. Ray said.
The industry body, in its submission, agreed that there was an urgent need to connect the billion unconnected people and narrow the digital and developmental divide but suggested that there were clearly other transparent and more effective ways of achieving that goal. Two of the main methods of connecting the unconnected, according the association are; investing in infrastructure for common access and providing subsidized and non-discriminatory access directly to the consumers.