Comments of the International Center for Law & Economics, In the Matter of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s 9/12/15 Consultation Paper on Differential Pricing for Data Services, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
“The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (“TRAI”)’s tradition of regulatory humility — the “forbearance and flexibility” that has characterized its approach to telecommunications services regulation — has enabled the explosive growth of internet usage throughout India, including an over 50% surge in the number of users of mobile internet in rural areas since 2001. But as the Authority considers regulations and rules to “ensure orderly growth… and protection of consumer interest,” it is important to keep in mind the fundamental lesson taught by decades of technology regulation throughout the world: where entrepreneurial companies are left relatively free to experiment with innovative new methods of developing and deploying technologies — particularly telecommunications technologies — consumers enjoy the largest increases in their standard of living.
The importance of humility in regulating highly innovative industries cannot be overstated. Even after decades of research, there is still much that economists cannot predict about the broad economic effects of technological innovation on economic growth and development. The unintended and unanticipated costs of preventing new methods of reaching underserved consumers can be substantial, and the consequences enormous to those in greatest need…”
“India is on the cusp of providing an economically and socially transformative service: near-ubiquitous, low-cost, high-value internet access that has the potential to create unprecedented opportunity and advantage for its citizens. The nation stands poised to increase the welfare of its poorest citizens with a rapidity seldom witnessed in human history. We strongly encourage TRAI to chart a wise course that allows for differentiated tariffs and the expanded internet access they can bring to India’s citizens.”