The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has finally weighed in on the net neutrality debate that has been raging in India for the past few months. The watchdog has asked Reliance Communications to put Facebook's free basics service on hold.
This comes close on the heels of Facebook's "slip-up" of seeking support for its "Save Free Basics" campaign from their users residing in the US and the UK. Although Facebook has claimed that it was an accident, it is believed that it could give them a much needed edge in their campaign to establish free basics in India. Facebook claimed: "We accidentally turned on this notification for some people outside India this evening for a short period of time."
The free basics service offered by Facebook has received a lot of flak from the Indian public. The first attempt at distribution made by Facebook in September sparked a furious debate on net neutrality. An online campaign titled "Save The Internet" launched earlier this year steadily gained popularity among the general public in India.
A Times of India report quoted a senior government official in Trai as saying: "The question has arisen whether a telecom operator should be allowed to have differential pricing for different kinds of content. Unless that question is answered, it will not be appropriate for us to continue to make that happen."
However, according to the report, telecom major Reliance Telecommunications is yet to remove the free basics service from its official platform. The service is still said to be available to those who log onto the Reliance website.
Trai is believed to be currently working alongside a parliamentary committee to determine the issues surrounding the net neutrality debate.