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Start-ups bat for Net Neutrality

Maya B, April 16,2015, Mumbai, DHNS 22:39 IST

Say it is necessary for healthy competition

Market. Reuters File Photo.
India, at present, is a hub of start-ups, many of which are starting from scratch with little investments. A cross-section of people behind start-up websites and mobile apps, which are in a race to gain a higher market share, told Deccan Herald that Net Neutrality is a necessity for a free market and healthy competition.

Ritesh Agarwal, CEO, OYO Rooms, said, “Net Neutrality is absolutely essential for a free and competitive market, especially now since there is a start-up boom in the country, particularly in the online sector. Most importantly, internet was created to break boundaries and as concerned industry players, we should maintain that.”

Similarly, Sumit Jain, co-founder and CEO, CommonFloor.com, said, “By rejecting Net Neutrality, we will be shutting the door on the entrepreneurial aspirations of millions, leaving telcos to play the gatekeeper to the internet and challenging the democratic behaviour that internet is known for.”

Manav Sethi, Group CMO, Askme.com, said Zero-Rating platforms would affect the freedom and growth of billions of entrepreneurs and would be against the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ vision of the government.

‘Monopolies get benefit’

Raj Gala Shah, partner, Zara Habitats, said hindering Net Neutrality would be encouraging a monopolistic market, wherein a handful of service providers would dictate what the entire nation will have access to and watch.

Aashay Shah, Founder, goalsquad.com, said, “If network providers are allowed to charge companies to get their data to users faster, it will no longer be an even playing field.”

He added, “If Net Neutrality didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be Facebook, Flipkart, Whatsapp, Gmail etc. as the previous market leaders Myspace, Amazon, Skype, Hotmail would have just paid telcos huge amounts to get their data quicker to users.”

OECD policy analyst Rudolf van der Berg said, “Historically, ‘walled gardens’, whether they were AOL, Compuserve, or for mobile operators at the start of 3G, have not flourished in competitive markets, because not all customers want the same services. Therefore, operators that provide access to the widest variety of the internet have generally been most successful.”

However, a note by Bharti Airtel on whether ‘smaller’ start-ups would be able to afford to pay for data charges on Airtel Zero, states, “Why not? Today, when a consumer downloads a new app and uses it for a day, the total amount of data consumed is roughly about 20-30 MB. Assuming a price of Re 1/MB of free data, this will translate to Rs 20 for the start-up.

Compared with this, the average cost of marketing digitally through large media/internet companies is about Rs 50 to Rs 300 per download. So, this platform will actually make it cheaper for small companies to gain distribution as well as visibility.”

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