Telecom Commission Looks for Clarification on TRAI Data Affordability Solution

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The TC (Telecom Commission) has referred back to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the telecom regulator, for its suggestions on offering free data to assist bridge the gap of affordability, looking for clarifications on how the views of the authority can be operationalized.

“In December last year, TRAI had suggested methods to give confidence to free data. The TC have made a decision to refer it back to the regulator on how this might be operationalized,” a senior official of telecom department claimed last week.

Telecom Commission Looks for Clarification on TRAI Data Affordability Solution

TRAI, which requires to get back to the TC in 2 Weeks, had suggested in last December 100 MB of free data and an aggregator model for mobile phone users in remote or rural areas to give a push to the cashless financial system agenda of the government. TRAI recommended that the USOF (Universal Services Obligation Fund) be utilized to foot the bill for offering free data offers incentivized by the government to rural users.

In addition to this, to elevate the participation of other entities for incentivizing free data, an aggregator, or 3rd party, must be rolled out to provide offers that are non-discriminatory and telco-agnostic in their completion. They must not avoid rules that have banned discriminatory costing of data services. Any offer given by the aggregator must not comprise any arrangement amid aggregator and carrier or content provider, TRAI suggested.

Some, on the other hand, inquired about the aggregator model while utilizing an app, claiming it may be infringing the concept of net neutrality that guarantees unbiased and free access to Internet for all. The aggregator model is based on awarding subscribers with incentives such as recharges for voice or data usage

TRAI had claimed to fill the gap of affordability in rural areas and to back government attempts towards a cashless financial system by incentivizing digital methods. A sensible amount of data (for instance100 MB each month) must be made accessible for free to the rural users. The regulator claimed that the price to offer 100 MB of free Internet data to almost 50 Million handset subscribers in rural regions for a year might come to almost Rs 600 Crore. It might be lower, given the sharp drop anticipated in the prices of Internet.

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