Net Neutrality, Free Basics, Digital Equality, Internet.org by Facebook, you may have heard or read these names on social media and many times in the last few days. Do you know what the Free Basics exactly is? Do you Know What is Net Neutrality and Why you should support Support Net Neutrality? In this article we will discuss about Net Neutrality. Please Do share as much as possible and Support Net Neutrality till 30th December. For more details, read the article below.
Do NOT send any message to TRAI through Facebook in support of Free Basics or Digital Equality. By doing so you are only acting against Net Neutrality.
Quite a lot of hullabaloo is going on for some time regarding the Net Neutrality. In fact, the very particular issue along with the Free Basics (Facebook) and Airtel Zero (Airtel) are getting a lot of attention for the past few days.
What is all the fuss about? To understand the context, you first need to understand what is Net Neutrality?
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality (also referred as Internet Neutrality or Net Equality or First Amendment of the Internet) is the principle, which governs that Internet Service Providers (ISP) should allow people (internet users) to access data without any discrimination (and impartially) or getting charged differentially for site, web content, platform, application (app), mode of communication etc. ISP should not block a website or page unless it is illegal. In addition to that, ISP should make sure all websites are accessible at the same speed and no website or application gets preference in terms of loading time.
The idea of net neutrality has its origin from how landline telephone lines used to operate in the early 20th century. You can dial any number and connect to any other person (drug store, restaurant, police station etc.) irrespective of the fact if that person is using the same telephone operator or not. You should not get restricted neither face a delay in getting connected to a particular number.
Net Neutrality means the way we are using internet today since its inception.
Net Neutrality means you can express yourself freely at a global level.
Net Neutrality means you can access Flipkart, SnapDeal, ebay & Amazon ; Facebook, Twitter and Google ; Paytm, PayUMoney and PayPal ; Times Of India, Indian Express, NDTV, ESNP-Cricinfo, CricBuzz, Bollywood Hungama and EduMovLive ; MeetUniversity, Shiksha, MBA Crystal Ball, Admissionado, StudyPortals and Hotcourses – all at the same speed and at the same data plan rates.
More importantly, you can start your own website and reach your audience globally. You do not need to have powerful connections or need to pay ISP to put your website online (and hence reach your audience). You just need to pay for web hosting and maintenance. You can read more on what net neutrality is and why net neutrality is important by The Times of India and what is net neutrality and why it is important in India by FirstPost.
Why You Should Support Net Neutrality?
If there is not Net Neutrality then ISP can charge companies like YouTube or Netflix since they consume more bandwidth. This could result into that that YouTube has to pay a share of their revenue to the ISP, or people should pay to watch YouTube videos – sounds horrible, right?
Similarly, you can access Flipkart app at normal loading speed, but SnapDeal or Amazon might take way too long to get load if you do not pay extra on the top of your standard data plan – this will automatically make people to shop only from Flipkart and not from SnapDeal or Amazon.
Similarly, if there is not net neutrality, you will be getting charged to make voice calls on WhatsApp, Skype or Viber. For example, Facebook has got a deal with Reliance. So, Reliance users can use Facebook and WhatsApp for free; but will need to pay if they want to use Google, Twitter, Viber or Skype.
If there is not net neutrality – it will be the Startups and Entrepreneurs who will get affected the most. Big companies like Google or Twitter can pay an amount to make their services accessible to you (of course you will need to pay as well) because they have got the money. But, what will the startups and young entrepreneurs do? With growing internet usage in India and the trending startup culture, the lack of Net Neutrality will hamper the growth of creativity, innovation and business. More importantly, the freedom of speech will be gone as well.
Last but not the least – companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter born because of Net Neutrality only. Suppose there was no net neutrality when Orkut was so popular in early 2000 – then today there would not have been any Facebook. Likewise, there would not have been Flipkart or SnapDeal if there was no Net Neutrality and Amazon had made a deal with ISP.
Why and How the Threat of Net Neutrality Started?
With increasing popularity of instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype etc., people started using these for making calls and sending messages for free. The telecom operators (telcos) started to face loss (actually less profits) because their main revenue streams (Calls and SMSes) got abandoned.
In December 2014, Airtel announced extra charges for making calls through WhatsApp, Viber and Skype (basically VoIP calls). People on the whole social media (Twitter, Facebook et al.) went all out against Airtel, and Airtel had to retract the decision shortly.
Net Neutrality in India received another blow because of the announcements of Airtel and Reliance; and also because of Facebook.
Facebook’s Internet.org is collaboration between Facebook and other companies. Facebook got in to a deal with Reliance to provide free internet, mainly in the remote rural areas. But, it will include only selected services and apps. People will have to pay for accessing other websites and apps (which are not a part of the deal). Hence it is a direct threat to net neutrality.
Why You Should Not Support Free Basics / Digital Equality?
Free Basics / Digital Equality are misguided campaigns of Internet.org that allow users to access the services including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, BBC, Wikipedia and few selective others, after downloading the app. The app was launched in India on Reliance network – Facebook’s partner in Internet.org.
The Free Basics and Digital Equality campaigns of Facebook is a hoax – read the article by Nash David on Firstpost here – Is an aggressive Facebook turning Free Basics into a movement?
On 17th December, Facebook launched an Evil and disguised Free Basic campaign on their platform to generate support for Free Basics from Facebook users who did not even had idea what they are supporting. It worked for Facebook as TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) received 600,000 emails in support of Free Basics (source Times Of India).
In order to compete with Reliance, Airtel launched Airtel Zero with its own groups of selective free services and free apps. As discussed earlier, App Developers and services with huge funds might not bother too much to pay Airtel or Reliance for data charges. But, new entrepreneurs and startups might not be able to afford the data rates. Hence the growth of entrepreneurial and real Digital India will be at stake. PM Narendra Modi’s vision of Digital India looks good as he made clear that his top priority is access of internet across India. But as Dhruva Jaishankar opined in his column “Digital India vs Net Neutrality” on Indian Express – the access should not need to come at the cost of losing Net Neutrality.
As of now, TRAI has asked Reliance to stop the service for the time being – India temporarily bans Facebook’s controversial free internet service.
Voice Your Support for Net Neutrality and Save The Internet:
Net Neutrality activists and Lobbyists and Communities including The Logical Indian and AIB have are putting a lot of efforts to save the net neutrality in India.
Read the articles of The Logical Indian here: Net Neutrality Archives – The Logical Indian
Watch the video Save The Internet by AIB:
Show Your Support for Net Neutrality in India and Save The Internet
It’s time to Support for Net Neutrality by logging on to Save The Internet and sending an email to TRAI before December 30. I am supporting net neutrality and I have given you enough reasons why you should support. So, please voice your support.
If you have already sent Message through Facebook in Support of Free Basics, it’s fine, because you did it unknowingly. Now, forget it and send an email through Savetheinternet.in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there was no Net neutrality, You would not have been able to read this article, which might have reached you via Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook. So, please – do Support Net Neutrality and send the email before December 30, 2015.