this blog is a collection of writings written by me at various forums and blogs, and some stuffs about me and my taste.

Monday, July 6, 2015


( Originally Written for Media Magazine ) and Airtel Zero -- 2 partially free internet connections -- from Facebook and Airtel, as well as a consultation paper which kind of facilitates more such free internet connection plans from Internet Service Providers was at the receiving end of heavy criticism in India. You might have noted them and might have even signed that petition to DOT against that consultation paper.

Net Neutrality; the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. and Airtel Zero is against Net Neutrality. Sounds Scary?

Before we dig deeper into Net Neutrality, Rewind!

Google is Free! Gmail is Free!
Facebook is Free! Whatsapp is Free!
Mozilla Firefox is Free!!
Most things in the internet seems free! Oh Really???

Most of the things we use via internet seems free to us users. However, they are not actually free! The cost of running these free services -- the servers, the support staff, the software cost, their office costs, etc. -- are actually born by somebody out there; usually advertising companies or venture capitalists.

In the case of services like gmail or facebook, they use our personal information to show relevant advertisements to us, and make money. Sometimes they use our data to improve our user experience too; so that we spend more time with them, so that they can charge online advertisers more. Some companies do not use our personal information to remain ON. Mozilla Firefox for example plants paid contents in their browser to generate revenue. [Did you know Mozilla's 2012 revenue was $311 Million?]

Services in the Internet has made a sustainable model of keeping itself alive; while keeping most of the things free. And we love it! Isn't it?

Now a days, some of these companies are so aggressive to get users that they even pay users to use their services. For example, the popular mobile app based transportation network company, Uber subsidise taxi rides just to make us use their service; and eventually make the convenience of Uber taxi rides a habit. Companies like Flipkart & Amazon subsidise the products they sell, just to make buying via them a habit. Now, as customers, we enjoy it. Isn't it?

Competition in the internet is huge. Innovation happening in the internet is even more. Entrepreneurs in internet are innovating aggressively to sustain. All the companies out there are exploring new ways to acquire new users and retain existing ones.

One such innovation is and Airtel Zero. Today, internet users pay money to use internet. However, if we subscribe to or Airtel Zero, then some websites will becomes free to use. We don’t have to pay even the Internet Service Providers to use internet to browse a selected set of websites. The data charges that we used to pay earlier will now be paid by companies like Facebook and Flipkart. End result? Internet will become even more cheaper to use for us users. People with lower disposable income too so may start using Internet. Now, would you like that? I do!

There are 3 major arguments that I noted against such a model of internet connection.
(1) It is a breach of privacy. Our data is being sniffed; to charge or not charge the data we consume.
(2) It will become harder for startups to grow, if we do not have net neutrality.
(3) Internet Service Providers could take money from a company to delay/slow/block connectivity to a competitor.

We are enjoying everything for free in the internet. We have already compromised our privacy in return. No big deal! Breach of privacy is a fact. It already is happening in the internet. If we prevent this breach of privacy, then we will kill almost all the things that we currently love in the internet.  

For Startups, yes. Things are already very tough, and if free internet model becomes the future, it could become even more tougher to succeed. But if a business has the potential to succeed, they will figure out a way to come out successful.

What if Internet Service Providers take money from a company to delay/slow/block connectivity to a competitor? Any kind of exclusion or censorship will once again be dealt with by the basic capitalist force. If one service provider doesn't provide a particular type of content then people have the choice of going to a provider who will feature that content.

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