India turns down proposal for free data for the poor
The Indian government has turned down a proposal to offer free data to the poor, with the Telecom Commission, the top decision-making body on telecoms matters, refusing to agree to a recommendation made by regulator TRAI. As the Economic Times reports, the Telecom Commission, which is an inter-ministerial body, did not find merit in TRAI’s proposal in view of the already-low mobile tariffs across the country, and also because of the strong penetration of internet across subscribers. “In 2016, TRAI had made a pitch for providing free data to people in remote and rural areas, and had later submitted suggestions to this effect to the Department of Telecom. The regulator had suggested giving out 100 MB of free data every month, and had said that the move could be funded by the universal service fund that has been created to spread telecoms services in remote areas. Also, TRAI had suggested a model where ‘data aggregators’ could offer the free data through telco-agnostic schemes in a non-discriminatory manner.” Aruna Sundararajan, Telecom Commission chairperson, said that the high-powered body did not support the idea of setting up data aggregators. “We do not want a set-up where aggregators would need to be registered or licensed, and thereafter monitored. The Telecom Commission felt that we do not need these kinds of data intermediaries operating in the market.” Meanwhile. the economic impact of 5G is estimated to be over one trillion dollars for India, which “is aggressively positioning itself to be at the forefront of the new age technologies”, communications minister Manoj Sinha has said. The Indian government has also rejected requests for financial relief with regards to spectrum payments, but will consider other measures. See more on free data, (5G) and financial relief.
- Tuesday, 19 February 2019