TRAI thinks Gigato is a fit example for net neutrality

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CIOL Gigato on Trai’s mind to bring in effect free data while preserving net neutrality

The dust around the debate of biased internet has barely settled down, and the telecom regulator is exploring ways to offer free data in India without violating the principles of Net Neutrality. After its order, banning differential pricing for websites, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has floated a consultation paper seeking zero-rating platforms.


The apex body in the consultation paper has taken up the example of an app - Gigato - which gives back free data to users in exchange for some amount of usage. Gigato is an app service which provides data in MB to customers. Gigato has tied up with brand partners like Faasos, Jabong, Saavn, etc to run promotions which determine the free data, Shailesh Nalawadi, CEO and co-founder of Gigato explained. For instance, if you use 5MB for Uber, you get 10 MB data free or use 20MB data for WhatsApp and get 10 MB data free. In short, the more you use your data, the more your chance of getting some of it back for free.

CIOL Gigato on Trai’s mind to bring in effect free data while preserving net neutrality

The company, which only works for pre-paid accounts on Android OS, is part of US-based Mavin Co, which is a team of former Google and Microsoft engineers that wants to bring the Internet to all. According to Google Play, Gigato has close to 1,00,000 downloads, and the company claims it has returned over 150 GB of data on peak days.

“Our customers are other mobile apps. They pay for the promotions and data. One needs to think about how to boost mobile data usage,” Nalawadi says. Although TRAI is looking at this model as a fit example for net neutrality, the model of partnering with brands and payment for promotions and free data by them may raise some concerns. The risk with this is that some players might be able to afford better deals, and thus could end up killing usage for smaller players. For instance, a bigger company like Uber or Facebook can afford to run these ‘free data’ promotions, while a start-up might not be able to do the same.

But Nalawadi argues the app has no operator restrictions, and the free data can be used to browse any other site or portal.

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