India’s telecom regulator on Monday dealt a blow to Facebook’s plans to offer free mobile Internet through its controversial Free Basics service, by outlawing differential pricing for data packages. Facebook has suffered a fierce backlash in India from “net neutrality” advocates. They say that because Free Basics only allows access to selected websites, albeit free, it violates the principle that the entire Internet should be available to everyone on equal terms.
While not ruling explicitly on net neutrality, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) decided not to allow what it called “discriminatory pricing” for different data platforms or content. The regulator’s ruling suggests that Free Basics, which was aimed mainly at millions of people in India’s poor rural areas, will not be allowed to continue in its current form. FULL REPORT