Science and Tech


India Cracks Down Harder Than The FCC, Bans Special Data Pricing

India's new rules are even stricter than those the Federal Communications Commission put in place in 2014 to govern U.S. telecommunications.
Posted at 2:26 PM, Feb 09, 2016

India's telecommunications regulator has banned differential data pricing. That's when companies charge different fees for different content on the Internet. (Video via

You might have seen how this locks Facebook's Free Basics program out of the country. But the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or TRAI, is responsible for the nation's communications policy — just like the Federal Communications Commission is in the U.S.

The TRAI chairman said, "Anything on the Internet can't be priced based on content, applications, source and destination."

It's got to be an Internet of dumb pipes, in other words. It's a lot like what FCC chair Tom Wheeler said of the Open Internet rules:

"Not only does that mean no blocking, no throttling and no fast lanes — it also means vigilant oversight as the Internet continues to evolve." (Video via Federal Communications Commission)

Democratic processes helped both initiatives along. In India, net neutrality campaigns helped trigger 1.1 million comments by the public deadline — just as they bolstered the 1.47 million comments the FCC collected ahead of its own Open Internet ruling.

TRAI will impose a daily fee of 50,000 rupees — or some $730 — for companies that violate the new rules. (Video via Indian Diplomacy / CC BY 3.0)

The FCC doesn't explicitly list fines but instead says it will investigate transgressions and follow through on complaints. (Video via C-SPAN)

Which isn't to say it won't crack down when it has to. It fined AT&T $100 million for throttling content in violation of transparency rules — and the throttling clause of the Open Internet order.

Still, the FCC hasn't gone so far as to ban differential data pricing. Just look at any of the sponsored data programs domestic carriers are running, in spite of the FCC's bright-line rules. (Video via ComcastAT&T)

This video includes images from Getty Images and viggy prabhu / CC BY SA 4.0.