05 January 2016 08:57:29 IST

Nasscom bats for choice on mobile data plans

Industry body calls for independent body to regulate differential pricing

Industry body Nasscom on Monday said the customer should have the right to choose a mobile tariff plan when selecting an internet data pack. Sharing their perspective at a meet on Differential Pricing for Data Services organised by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Nasscom officials said the matter needed careful consideration because of its possible impact on the principles of Net Neutrality.

Oversight The industry body also said an independent, not-for-profit entity should own and manage the proposed differential pricing. Customers should be allowed to innovate without permission and have no differential data charges for different apps. “Differential pricing should not become a tool that facilitates market dominance or enables anti-competitive behaviour by either telecom service provider (TSP) or platform provider,” said Sanjiv Bikhchandani, Chairman of the Nasscom Internet Council.

India currently suffers from low internet and broadband penetration. Additionally, there are challenges of low levels of digital literacy and limited local language support/ content in a country where less than 10 per cent of the population speaks English, the industry body said.

‘Don’t hinder innovation’ “We strongly oppose any model where TSPs or their partners have a say in choosing content that is made available at favourable rates, speed, etc,” said Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar.

He said Nasscom recognises that there is an obvious need for a collective, concerted effort to enable relevant content, services or access to overcome the digital divide. “Therefore it is important that the regulator have the power to allow differential pricing for certain types/ classes of services that are deemed to be in the public interest and based on mandatory prior approvals,” he said.

Any such programme should abide by the principles of net neutrality and not constrain innovation in any way, Chandrashekhar added.

Accordingly, any differential pricing programmes, including proposals by TSPs and their partners, should have been approved by the regulator and deemed to be in the public interest, Nasscom said in its comments.