Consultation Process on Differential Pricing for Data Services

Response to Consultation Process on Differential Pricing for Data Services by TRAI (India)

Here are my answers to the questions on Differential Pricing for Data Services.

Question 1: Should the TSPs be allowed to have differential pricing for data usage for accessing different websites, applications or platform?

Breakthrough enabling internet capabilities are rich-media communication and mass-interactions (for example, social media), bypassing distance and time limitations. These capabilities must be made available universally, to maximize the economic benefits of the new medium in business, commerce, education, healthcare, culture, politics and governance. Differential pricing to limit access to internet capabilities will inherently create inequalities with cascading side effects.

Question 2: If differential pricing for data usage is permitted, what measures should be adopted to ensure that the principles of nondiscrimination, affordable internet access, competition and market entry and innovation are addressed?

Differential pricing for access to the internet medium must not be permitted. Internet access should be treated as a “common carrier” public utility. Differential pricing may apply for specific software applications, or service levels — but not to internet content.

Question 3: Are there alternative methods/technologies/business models, other than differentiated tariff plans, available to achieve the objective of providing free internet access to the consumer? If yes, please suggest/describe these methods/technologies/business models. Also describe the potential benefits and disadvantages associated with such methods/technologies/ business models?

Access to internet is primarily a technology issue. Current market confusion is due to attempts to bypass technology constraints through non-technology means. Providing “free internet” is a economic/social policy issue. Therefore, must be achieved through economic/financial methods (subsidies.) Trying to achieve social goals through technology constraints is futile.

There is a mismatch between currently promoted internet architecture and optimum network
architecture to maximize economic benefits. Please see more information in the attached document, “Network Reference Model.”

Question 4: Is there any other issue that should be considered in the present consultation on differential pricing for data services?

There is a market gap in the products currently available for effective and efficient internet access. Steps need to be taken to facilitate commercial availability of products that take maximum advantage of available technologies for access networks because internet access is an intrinsic bottleneck.

Additional details available upon request.

Supplementary information

Here are links to articles written when the “Net Neutrality” controversy/debate was raging in the USA.

(1) Net neutrality: issues and solution

(2) Recommendations to the FCC for the path forward

(3) An Internet Transit Map

(4) Internet “Fast lane” and “Slow lane”

(5) Tragedy of Internet Commons

(6) Financialization in telecom

Please contact us if you have questions or need additional details.

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