Yesterday, I’ve seen in the headlines of newspaper about a very brave and quick decision taken by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to ban free basics internet services from Facebook,by introducing law says that,”No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content”.Bravo,we indians know there is no free lunch means that it is impossible to get something for nothing.But query may arise in mind definitely,”Why India rejected Facebook’s ‘free’ version of the Internet?”
First try to understand ,Net neutrality vs Internet.org(Free basics):
Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. Net neutrality means access to free and unbiased internet for all. To put it in simple terms, anyone from anywhere around the world should be able to access or provide services and content on the internet without any discrimination.
Internet.org is a partnership between social networking services company Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that 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.It is set of websites with facebook leading the pack. It you are signed for free basics and your telecom operator (e.g. Reliance , Airtel etc. ) participates in it, you don’t have to pay for these services. ( You basically don’t pay for data ) This means even if you don’t have internet services available on your mobile you still can access these services on your mobile free of cost.However, this free access is limited to partner websites and applications only. Facebook is partnering with ISPs to provide preferential and selective access to a set of app developers and services.
Now try to see, Who will decide what will be covered in free basics ?
It is upto the telecom operators and the free basics managers who will decide what websites should be there and what not. That means there will be few people in india who decide what you should see free of cost and what you should pay for.These people will decide what job site you should visit, what sites you should shop from, which sites to listen to music from and which sites you should visit for news.let’s take an example if flipkart signs for free basics you will be able to see flipkart site/App free of cost and you will not be able to visit amazon, snapdeal and others. That means if you don’t have internet pack activated on your mobile you cannot visit other sites and you need to purchase only from flipkart. Since most of the people it is assumed will not purchase a data pack this will give flipkart a huge advantage in terms of market reach and will put consumers in a market where only one shop is located.
Free basics seems like Subsidiary Alliance which was a system of ruling a dominated nation introduced it in India in the 19th century by Lord Wellesley . At that time, there were local rulers in India. The system worked as follows: The (ruling) British would enter into a contract with a local ruler. This ruler had to accept many conditions; among them was that he would only deal with the British, and no other European forces, that he would allow British forces in the territory he ruled, and that he would not declare war without asking the British first.Under this doctrine, Indian rulers under British protection surrendered the control of their foreign affairs to the British. Most disbanded their native armies, instead maintaining British troops within their states to protect them from attack. As British power grew, in most parts of India this became increasingly unlikely.
So Free basics (internet.org) is not an internet but splintered net. It is all about numbers and the plan is to add as many more to the FB bandwagon as possible and what better place to start than India! India with it its untapped potential and huge ready user base waiting to get connected to, you guessed it…Facebook!Let’s introduce with some numbers. Industry estimates suggest India had 375 million Internet users at the end of October 2015, a number that was supposed to touch 402 million. Facebook has over 130 million users from India that log in at least once every month, which translates to roughly one in three connected Indians who access Facebook. If you throw in the more than 100 million monthly active users WhatsApp has in India, the number of users of Facebook-owned services is even higher — assuming there are many people who use WhatsApp but don’t have a Facebook account.With Free Basics, Facebook said it wanted to bring more unconnected users online.Facebook’s carrier partners were using Free Basics to retain customers by helping them access Facebook for free, while subscribers on other networks had to pay for it. No wonder carriers were willing to foot the cost of serving Free Basics.
This is nothing but a ploy of Facebook to cash the big Indian Market.They are playing with us with “Free” word and irony we are being played.Let me also explain what is Facebook’s proposition:
 Not enough people are aware of the internet or the benefits it can bring, so the company offers them a limited experience free of charge on their smartphones, which is where most new internet users come online. If they like what they see, they can buy data packs from their mobile operators to surf the web.
 If Indians and other poor-world internet internet users spend the vast majority of their time within Facebook’s walled garden, that would force other businesses to set up shop on Facebook rather than on their own websites or elsewhere on the internet. This would give Facebook enormous power over competitors and indeed over the internet.
Under free basics project ,Internet is not free. Data services is not free. The telecom operator will never give it for free. The free basics platform will never give services for free. Do you think any businessman, any corporate, any website will give services for free ? Anyone who does business and lives on planet earth understands nothing is free. everything comes at a cost.A consumer will still be paying for it,when he buys the phone or the connection. Since he will not buy another connection because free basics is not there, it is situation of monopoly or huge market differentiation for the participating telecom operator. They can charge one time fee at the time you buy the connection. How does that turns into profit. Its our moral duty to educate to (information) illiterate mass of our society that internet don’t only means FB,WhatApp or Google but much much beyond their imagination.Let them inspire to surf sites like Wikipedia, the BBC, health sites and weather reports and so.In nutshell, In the long run, if projects like free basics succeeds, the teleco and the free basics group can become so powerful that they can form opinions, shape the mood of the nation, of the people.
As an Indian I think we need something like digital skills training, because what good will internet do if we have internet but don’t know how to use it effectively. Otherwise,we will kill freedom,we will kill independence,if we would be trapped by Facebook like any giant company(remember East India Company!)
“Our rights to connect and communicate — via universally accessible, open, affordable and fast communications networks and devices — are essential to our individual, economic and political freedoms.
The Internet is the foremost battleground for free speech in the 21st century, and protecting our Internet freedom is essential to safeguarding our rights to speak and assemble in private.
Together we’re building the movement we need to protect our rights to connect and communicate.” – savetheinternet.com
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I am a full-stack engineer whose passion lies in building great products while enabling others to perform their roles more effectively. I have architect and built horizontally scalable back-ends; distributed RESTful API services; and web-based front-ends with modern, highly interactive Ajax UIs.
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