Yesterday TRAI in a decision decided to show the door to Facebook’s baby “free basics”.
The Net Neutrality debate was on for a long time. The decision comes as a shot in the arm for those supporting Net Neutrality.
Mr. Zuckerberg must be a disappointed man. His sinister plan to control the internet in the disguise of free internet
has taken a step back.
“Fee Internet by Free Basics”. The day I read about this plan from Facebook, I knew something was fishy.
So many free-s do not roam together for free.
Irrespective of how hard Facebook tried to sell the “We were trying to change the world” shit, I knew how much they wanted to get free users in disguise of public service.
“Free basics” was anything but free for end users. It was an internet plan which allowed users to use the internet free of cost.
The word “Free Internet” consisted of few websites approved by the social media giant.
i.e, if I use free basics, I only get to browse the websites offered by the seller of free basics “Facebook”.
Those of you who always wondered, where does Facebook make so much money from?
You need to look at those ads on the right-hand side of your Facebook wall or sponsored ads in the middle of your Facebook wall.
Facebook earns because of ads. It is all a number game for them. More the number of active users on FB, more is the money they can earn.
With free basics, Facebook wanted to take the internet to millions of poor Indians (the poor us 🙂 ) . This would have multiplied their user base by millions for “free”.
Taking a cue from Facebook, our mobile service providers too decided to join the campaign to take the internet to millions for free.
Now mobile service providers trying to work for free sounds more unbelievable than Facebook trying to give us the internet for free.
How does this decision impact them?
Let’s analyze the plan of our telecom service providers to give us free internet.
Our corporate giants from telecom sector had their own version of free basics (yet to be named) to earn from websites.
They wanted to start a model where websites on our mobile phones opened based on the money paid by them to internet providers.
In short, the first website to show when you type a keyword would be the one who paid the mobile service provider more.
This strategy would have killed every single startup trying to sell on the internet.
The whole concept is against the very meaning of Net Neutrality.
As per Wikipedia “Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”
Let me explain you with an example of how killing Net Neutrality creates an unfair field for startups.
Imagine a scenario. You sell flowers online through your e-commerce website.
Every time customer searches for your website, they see the torturous “loading-loading”.
All of us, who are so used to buying fast on the internet will quickly switch to faster web sites. No one likes to wait while performing transactions on the internet.
For no fault of yours, you lose a customer.
Had net neutrality failed, the battle of David versus Goliath would only be a story from story books.
In life, Goliath would have paid the guy who owned the battlefield. They, in turn, would have given him extra power to slow down all blows from David.
Goliath would have beaten the shit out of David.
Despite all the enthusiasm, smartness, David would have eventually lost the battle. Tomorrow, no one among us will ever compete with Flipkart or any company which is heavily funded.
The free basics structure is created with the concept of creating a monopoly on the internet for any venture with deep pockets.
This is why Net Neutrality was/is important. The purpose of Net Neutrality was to always have a level playing field for all businesses on the internet.
The Internet does not become anyone fiefdom because some business person has plans to grow his business in the disguise of free internet.
Had free basics or any damn “free internet” strategy by our mobile service providers succeeded, PM’s Start Up India campaign would have run out of all the steam.
Today, startup culture in India blossoms because the internet is no one’s property. You can sell with small advertisement budget.
With Net Neutrality winning the latest bout against free basics, all startups can sleep peacefully.
The decision definitely holds a special meaning for me and every entrepreneur who are working hard to make their small business or startup a success.