Can Telecom Operators Bypass Zero Rating Ban? Here is How They Plan to do it?
After TRAI banned all differential pricing and Zero rating plans from Telecom operators and monopolistic organizations, there is a possibility that these makes a comeback in entirely new avatar.
As per reports emerging, telecom players have already started creating strategies, which will bypass the TRAI ban on Zero Rating, and offer new set of data plans which acts within the new rules, but still is able to favor a few content creators/web services.
In short, telcos are planning to kill Net Neutrality with new armor and new design.
One interesting strategy which is being talked about includes creating an ecosystem of their own apps/services which doesn’t require using Internet as we know it.
Hence, as these apps would be part of their ‘closed’ system, any differential pricing applied on their usage would be free from the clutches of TRA and regulations.
For instance, if Airtel launches their own messaging app or say a news app like InShorts, and then offer them only for Airtel customers, using their own ecosystem of Airtel network; then they can offer them for free and/or less charges; and TRAI wont be able to stop it.
Such apps/services would be hosted on their own servers, thereby completely bypassing Internet for its spread. The result would be the same: murder of Net Neutrality; and forcing the customer to access only their apps/services.
As an unnamed source from a telecom firm shared, “As an operator, this is great, we can have captive content, at a captive cost, as long as it is not available to anyone else. It’s a great way to capture customers.”
Another Concern: Huge Data Charges for Entry Level Customers
Entry level data users, who typically opt for 1 GB plan (minimum) and then use WhatsApp and Facebook for low charges using special discriminatory plans can experience huge shock over the data charges.
Considering that no discriminatory data plan would be offered now, these entry level customers would now face additional data charges mainly for using WhatsApp and Facebook; which is another worry for telecom companies.
To assist them ‘absorb’ higher data charges, telecom companies are planning to ‘shrink’ the data packs to 500 MB-600 MB packs for peak hours; and then offer unlimited usage in off-peak hours.
Although offering different data packs for different time-zones is not entirely a bad idea; but the possibility of creating own content and apps; and then offer them for free using their own network is unsettling to some extent.
The web would be divided into several chunks or islands; and the customers would be left with no choice, but to go with their chosen operator. On some levels, Net Neutrality principles would be again shattered.
Besides, there are some other loopholes as well, which are being closely observed by various telecom companies, as they aim to squeeze maximum dollars from the giant fruit called Internet.
We will keep you updated.