Telecom operators' response to Trai's paper on differential pricing for data services is "vague" and their claims with regard to level-playing field are "irrelevant", MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar has said while opposing any such move.
Telecom operators’ response to Trai’s paper on differential pricing for data services is “vague” and their claims with regard to level-playing field are “irrelevant”, MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar has said while opposing any such move.
“This consultation is examining the issue of Differential Pricing for Data Services. At the very outset, it must be said that the vague responses and claims made by Telcos with regard to ‘Level Playing Field’ are irrelevant to this question and can be ignored,” Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar submitted to Trai in counter comments.
Trai invited public comments to firm up its views over services that lead to differential pricing of data and today was the last date for submitting counter comments on the same.
Telecom operators including Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance Communications and their respective associations have supported differential pricing for data services, while Internet service providers have opposed the plan.
Software Freedom Law Centre said that VoIP services or internet based calls compete with traditional telephone services, as they should, because all communications, whether characterized as “telephone calls” or “data packets” are in fact the same.
“What other commentators call “price arbitrage” by consumers between these services should be called “user efforts to eliminate anti-competitive routing practices, otherwise known as “net neutrality”, SFLC said.
Chandrasekhar said telecom operators claim regarding the threat to their viability contradicts all available evidence in their quarterly financial reports which point to significant revenue growth.
“Their (telecom operators) call for Differential Pricing is with a view to ensure that they are permitted to cabalize the internet through gatekeeping. The need for a free, open and fair internet, however must supersede this desire of telcos to misuse control, and increase profits,” he added.
Chandrasekhar said that ‘cabalization’ of the internet causes vertical integration which would lead to telecom operators owning parts of the internet and impacting consumer choice and competition in the long term by making web-only entities unviable and unable to compete.
A debate on net neutrality stirred across the country after Airtel decided to charge separately for Internet-based calls but withdrew it later after people protested.
Airtel in its comment to Trai again submitted to allow companies levy different charge on internet when it is used for making calls.
“For the growth of data service, price differentiation for data services can be allowed,” operators have submitted.