After netizens forced the hand of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the net neutrality issue in 2015, another public petition is gaining traction rapidly on change.org.
The petition — mounted by Amit Bhawani, a Hyderabad techie in “favour of any operator that offers affordable internet to customers” — urges Trai to stay on the side of the paying customer. It comes in the wake of Trai shutting down Jio’s Summer Surprise Offer. Jio’s competitors complained to Trai that tariff wars were bleeding the industry leading to Trai’s fiat to Jio to withdraw the offer.
At the time of writing the petition had garnered 73,095 votes.
Pointing out that internet tariffs have plummeted from about “Rs 250/GB to less than Rs 10/GB in just one year”, the petitioner asks: “What led to this change? Were the companies working as a cartel and fooling the Indian consumer?”
“With data consumption on the rise (going up from 1GB/month to 30GB/month) India has become the largest consumer of mobile data in the world because data became affordable. But Trai that was once supported by the common man for its stand on Net Neutrality now stands against the availability of affordable internet access,” says Bhawani.
The petition has seen support from some celebrities as well:
Stupid anti-consumer decision no matter who or which operator is concerned. The consumer must remain King. https://t.co/irFxHIt1rh
— SUHEL SETH (@suhelseth) April 7, 2017
Here’s the full text of Amit Bhawani’s petition:
Today is a black day for Digital India. The Indian consumers who with your support, once fought and won the battle for Net Neutrality; today are on the verge of losing out on affordable access to the Internet.
Sir, I am a techie, who has stood for the dream of Digital India throughout my career. In the last year, we have experienced a sea of change in the number of Indians logging on and using the Internet actively. There is a huge change in the data consumption patterns, from 1GB/month to an astonishing 30GB/month. World’s largest companies such as Facebook and YouTube have acknowledged this exponential rise of Indian data usage on their platforms. The fact is, Today, INDIA HAS BECOME THE LARGEST MOBILE DATA CONSUMER IN THE WORLD.
The biggest contributor for this phenomenon to occur was the availability of stable and affordable data across India, for the very first time. Statistics have revealed that the appetite for Internet was there, but the supply was strategically controlled and artificially priced high. The rate from Rs 250/GB has dropped drastically from last year to less than Rs 10/GB. The lower rate has resulted in a whole new segment of Indian consumers logging online. The same Indians, for whom data used to be a luxury.
I ask, what led to this change? Were the companies working as a cartel and fooling the Indian consumer?
Sir, Trai, which is supposed to be a pro-consumer body disappointed me today. Instead of protecting the scheme that gave a chance to a common man to access Internet at a cost of less than Rs 5/GB, it has decided to shut the ‘Jio Summer Surprise Offer’ and has set a precedence that will prevent the consumer from getting affordable data forever.
PS: This petition is in favor of any Telecom Operator that is offering affordable internet to the consumers. Ignoring the legal side, I wish that Trai & DoT would work in favor of the consumers and help in supporting any initiatives that help them in accessing the internet at an affordable price point.
Sir, My humble request to you is to please side with the Indian consumers and reinforce to the Indian public that your actions will always protect the interests of the common man. Would also request you to ensure that your policies are in sync with the vision of Digital India. To ensure that the Indian youth gets affordable access to Internet and Information.”
Reliance Jio had said in a statement that it would be withdrawing its complimentary offer to Jio Prime members. The withdrawal came within days of the announcement of the offer for extension of free service for a further three months (from April 15) for all Jio Prime customers who made their first paid recharge of Rs 303 and above. Jio has clarified that the Summer Surprise Offer will be in force for those customers who had signed up for Jio Prime prior to withdrawal.
Disclaimer: Reliance Industries owns Network18 which also publishes Firstpost.com (tech2)
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