TRAI Recommends 100 MB Free Data For Rural & Remote Areas Subscribers

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The telecom regulator has recommended an aggregator model and 100 MB of free data for mobile phone subscribers in rural or remote areas to help bridge the “affordability” gap and give a thrust to the government’s cashless economy agenda.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) suggested on Monday that the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) be used to foot the bill for providing government-incentivised free data schemes to rural subscribers.

Additionally, to increase participation of other entities for incentivising free data, a third party, or aggregator, should be introduced to offer schemes that are telco-agnostic and non-discriminatory in their implementation and don’t circumvent rules that have barred discriminatory pricing of data services.

Any scheme provided by the aggregator must not involve any arrangement between the carrier and the aggregator or content provider.

Some, however, questioned the aggregator model, which is based on rewarding users with incentives such as recharges for data or voice usage, while using an app, saying it maybe violating the concept of net neutrality that assures free and unbiased access to internet for all.