By some miracle, I was in Delhi, and was able to attend the open house. The telcos made a huge pitch for differential pricing at the TRAI Open House on Net Neutrality, but civil society and the Save The Internet coalition and others argued that the Internet cannot be regulated like telecom networks because users on the Internet are both content creators and consumers.
I made the following points when I got a chance to speak:
1) The original vision of Sir. Tim Berners Lee, was that of a platform that enabled universal access to knowledge. Differential pricing violates this vision.
2) As an entrepreneur, if I have to choose between Free Basics, X Basic and Y Basics, instead of publishing my content and software onto a unified, open internet, my task as a startup becomes much harder. This goes against the government's Startup India goals of making it easier for startups to do business in India.
3) Differential Pricing is a very divisive agenda. With Internet penetration still very low, the telcos and the Internet industry should work together to solve the larger problem of empowering millions of Indians with Internet access. For example, there is a massive amount of work that needs to be done to enable Indians to use the Internet in their own languages.
Some coverage of the issue is below.