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Hell Yes! Hell No! Public responds on differential pricing

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Hell Yes! Hell No! Maybe. How the public responded to TRAI
A word cloud of the most frequent words in the emails.
Hell Yes! Hell No! Public responds on differential pricing
A word cloud of the most frequent words in the emails.

In December 2015 the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) requested members of the public and other stakeholders to respond to four questions on the matter of differential  pricing for data services. After a 1-week extension of the deadline, the initial comment period ended on 7 January 2016. By then TRAI had received 24 lakh (2.4 million) responses, it said on its Web site. As the regulator wades its way through the responses, here's what it will find.

According to TRAI 18.94 lakh responses were generated by Facebook users through Facebook's platforms, @supportfreebasics.in (13.5 lakh) and @facebookmail.com (5.44 lakh). TRAI commented that most of these responses are in support of a specific product, Free Basics, and do not address the questions asked by TRAI. Reportedly Facebook spent an estimated Rs300 crore ($45 million) on the Free Basics campaign in India. If most of the responses are ignored by TRAI, then Facebook would have misfired in a big way.

Another set of 4.84 lakh template responses were generated through or copied from the SaveTheInternet.in platform. SaveTheInternet also spent a lot of energy or at least blog posts, although not much money, countering Facebook's Free Basics. This colored a lot of the public discussion on the matter, and many individual responses beyond SaveTheInternet's platform were also specifically about Free Basics rather than TRAI's questions (see the Other tab below).

The responses which did not fall into the above categories were then classified by TRAI as follows:

  • Comments from Service Poviders: 13 (2 unavailable)
  • Comments from Service Providers' Associations:  7
  • Comments from Organizations/Institutions: 43
  • Comments from Individuals sent as attachments: 47
  • Comments received through MyGov.in: 986
  • Comments from Individuals as emails: 5409

The primary question asked by TRAI was, "Should the TSPs be allowed to have differential pricing for data usage for accessing different websites, applications or platforms?" The tabs below list how the various parties responded to this question, reducing the response to either a Yes or No wherever possible in the case of service providers, trade bodies, organizations and individuals who sent an attached response. Some respondents did not answer the question directly, and for some it was difficult to tell. For the mass of emails that were received on the MyGov.in portal and another 5400 or so emails that the TRAI listed (see the Other Individuals tab below), more than half of them did not address the topic of differential pricing.  Presumably, if the TRAI will not consider the emails in support of Free Basics generated on Facebook's platform, it will also disregard all these emails that also do not respond directly to the questions.

 

RespondentResponse
AircelYes
AtriaYes
Bharti AirtelYes
BSNLYes
Citycom Networks Pvt LtdNo
IdeaYes
Reliance CommunicationsYes
Tata Communications LimitedYes
TelenorYes
VideoconYes
VodafoneYes
RespondentResponse
ACTOYes
NASSCOMNo
ISPAINo
IAMAINo
GSMAYes
C0AI AUSPIYes
ASSOCHAMYes
RespondentResponse
ACL Mobile LimitedYes
BabajobDid not address question
Broadband India ForumYes
CCAOIYes
Center for Democracy and TechnologyDid not address question
Centre for Media StudiesNo
Citizen ForumYes
Comptel NXTNo
Computer Society of IndiaDid not address question
Consumer Protection Association GujaratNo
Consumer VOICENo
CUTSNo
Dua ConsultingYes
FacebookYes
FICCINo
Free Software Mancha West BengalNo
Indian Internet enabled StartupsDid not address question
International Center for Law n EconomicsYes
Internet Democracy ProjectNo
Internet Society of India ChennaiNo
IPRG ICT Policy n Research GroupYes
IT for ChangeNo
Jugnucraft EntertainmentNo
MedianamaNo
mKisanDid not address question
MozillaDid not address question
MyRightsDid not address question
National Law School BangaloreNo
National Law University DelhiNo
NERA Economic ConsultingYes
One97 CommunicationNo
Progressive Policy InstituteYes
R StreetYes
RFCNo
Robosoft Technologies Pvt LtdNo
Savetheinternet in CoalitionNo
SFLCNo
SocialbloodDid not address question
Society for Knowledge Commons etNo
Star India Pvt LtdNo
Telecom WatchdogYes
Telxess Consulting Services Pvt LtdNo
The Centre for Internet & SocietyNo
Times InternetNo
Zee NetworkNo
RespondentResponse
A R ManjunathNo
Aayush AggarwalNo
Amit KashyapDid not address question
Anil NagNo
Ankit KumarDid not address question
Anoop SinghNo
Arijta KakatiNo
Aswini KumarDid not address question
Darrell M WestYes
Dharmendra MisraYes
George MattathilNo
Jehangir gaiNo
John GibbonsDid not address question
K S GopinathNo
Kumar SaurabhDid not address question
Kunaal PrasadNo
LaytonYes
Letter of startup foundersDid not address question
M S AbhinandanNo
Mahesh UppalYes
Manjunath Jayakrishnan NairNo
Narender GuptaYes
PranayNo
Priyank ChandraNot clear
Prof Arturo J CarrilloDid not address question
Rajeev Chandrasekhar MPNo
Rajiv KotibhaskarNo
Ravi V PrasadYes
S PandivinayaganNo
S RamakrishnanNo
Sagar PeswaniNo
Saurabh BiswasNo
Shailesh V HalarnkarNo
Shamik BiswasNo
Shashank MehraYes
SriramDid not address question
Suresh K JariwalaNo
T B BarotNo
Tathagata Satpathy MPDid not address question
V B LalNo
V Sridhar Rohit PrasadYes
Varun SharmaDid not address question
VedagiriNo
Vijay DahiyaNo
Vishal MisraNo
YogeshDid not address question
YooDid not address question

TRAI lists 986 responses received through MyGov.in, though a text analysis says there were only 822 unique responses. All 986 responses have been classified in the table below according to whether they mentioned "Differential pricing", or failing that, "Free Basics", or else "Net Neutrality." It is safe to say that most of those on the topic of differential pricing were opposed to the idea.

Surprisingly, only 12 responses were in Hindi, the rest were in English.

Email ContentNumber of Responses
Differential Pricing254
Free Basics162
Net Neutrality398
Other172

TRAI received approximately 5400 other email responses. Of the 1,035 emails that addressed the topic of differential pricing (that is, mentioned the term in the body of the response), 639 responded "No" or that it "should not be allowed." If a response did not contain the term "differential pricing," it was then checked for "free basics" and then for "net neutrality."

Email ContentNumber of Responses
Differential Pricing1035
Free Basics1370
Net Neutrality1761
Save The Internet52
No5
Yes23
Other1163

 

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