January 06, 2016

To Support Or Not To Support - Free Basics Is The Question

3.2 million Indians support free basics. Do you?

Facebook, your daily source of entertainment, your regular routine to beat boredom. Facebook has become the more trusted source of news than newspapers and news channels. So what happens when the most important app on your mobile phone sends you the notification “ACT NOW, to save digital equality”?

Claiming to help people rise from the dark insides of poverty and witness real development, it seemingly comes with new hopes. When you hear the story of a poor farmer who was raised from the litter to heights earning his daily bread with the help of free basics. Would you oppose?

Do you see Facebook as the messiah for the world’s second largest democracy with fast growing 400 million internet users?

Do you feel the sense of responsibility to contribute your bit to this noble cause and send a mail to TRAI?

Slow down. We have the other side of the story too.

Let’s paint the picture for you if free basics comes in to reality.

# Their way or high way

Fairly, you get to use apps and website for free but only a limited number of them, say about a 100. So, if you want to use a new app that’s not on par with the technical specification of FB then you’ll have to let go of it.

# Shell out more money

According to differential pricing set by Teleco’s, you will end up paying more money for using different apps which aren’t approved by the service.

# Internet freedom goes for a toss

All websites are equal under the eyes of the law. Free access to every website on the internet is will be lost with free basics bringing true net neutrality to an end.

# No Voice over internet protocol

 Voice over internet protocol is the provisioning of communication services such as voice messages, SMS, fax and so on over the public internet rather than the public telephone network. People who can’t read need videos and calls to understand the functions on apps and websites. Helping the poor is much harder with such technical specifications. The whole idea of free basics becomes futile.

To every argument, there are two sides. It is best to make a choice after thorough research about what you are signing up for. A simple click for freedom of internet? The answer may not always be so easy. Is Free basics a boon in disguise or an impending doom over our freedom of internet? If given an option, which side would you choose?