Free data usage decision should be left to apps, websites, says Nasscom

According to Nasscom, India’s IT industry body, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the only telecom regulator in India should provide freedom and flexibility to apps and websites for deciding on provisions for rewarding free data to customers.

Commenting on the paper recently released by TRAI on free data for customers, the body disclosed that operators should not have direct or indirect influence on the content that customers view on the Internet. Users should be encouraged to explore the Internet since this is the real purpose of free data.

When the reward is given by the platform and not by the individual website, it should not have any conditions attached that translate into discrimination between websites and apps or have any conditions as to which websites and apps may be accessed, either implicitly or explicitly, including stipulations regarding technology or content.

Responding to the report, Nasscom revealed that there be no restrictions on how users can consume data reward such as restricting its use to specific websites.

The Trai is currently exploring toll free number equivalent for Internet, using which customers will be able to access websites without having to incur data charges. The regulator is currently exploring possibility of drafting a framework, which should follow the basic principles of net neutrality.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, India

TRAI must define Net Neutrality urgently and this definition must focus on preventing gatekeeping/cabelisation by telcos. Free data must not be regulated through an ex-ante ban, but on a case-by-case basis. Regulation must not dampen competition or innovation on the web.

Recently, several telecom bodies, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) have raised serious questions about he specific point in the consultation paper talking about telecom agnostic platform. The various industry bodies also questioned the jurisdiction of TRAI to frame rules on free data without active consultation with telecom operators.

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Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and again as a Microsoft MVP in Surface under Windows and Devices in January 2024. He worked as a Chief Technical Editor with ASPAlliance and was part of ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at