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Free Basics helping just “one dominant player” in India: Vodafone CEO

Making a strong pitch for more competition in offering Internet services, Vodafone Group chief Vittorio Colao has spoken his mind on Facebook’s Free Basics, saying it was helping just “one dominant player” in India.

The social network’s zero-rated plan, in partnership with telecom operator Reliance Communications in India, offered free access to basic Internet services through select partner websites.

But soon, the programme ran into a wall of criticism in India as critics saw the product violating the principle of Net neutrality, which states that the entire Internet should be available to everyone on equal terms, be it content or speed.

Earlier this month, Facebook shut down the controversial programme after a Trai directive to this effect.

“The important thing for me is always to preserve fairness as you know we were not part of the Facebook experiment… I had always said I found that model was disproportionately helping one already dominant player. So to me, rather than saying this model is good, this is bad, it’s really to say which model allows more competition, more services,” Colao said here yesterday.

He was replying to questions about the ban on zero-rated data plans put in place by India’s telecom regulator Trai.

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