Facebook-squishing Indian regulator's next move: Open source code

How's that for colonialism, Andreessen?

Fresh from squashing Facebook's effort to grab the enormous India market, the sub-continent's regulator has another goal in mind: open source software.

Speaking at the India Digital Summit this week, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Ram Sewak Sharma, told attendees: "No service can be hostage to a particular technology."

He then went on to explicitly support the broader adoption of open source software, arguing that it would help the booming digital economy in India from being locked into buying from a specific company and enable a broader and more equitable internet for all.

"Any technology that is deployed for connectivity must be interoperable and the open standards framework and the principles it entails are extremely important," he argued.

Having seen off one of the internet's big beasts in the form of Facebook's Free Basics service – and received in response a cone-headed response about colonialism from Facebook director Marc Andreessen – Sharma was a little more wary when asked about Google's own effort to bring the internet to its masses: Project Loon.

"I don't like to comment on a specific product," he said when asked whether TRAI would approve the search engine giant's 4G weather balloon project. "But India has adopted an open source policy and open API policy."

Google hopes to succeed where Facebook failed, and launch Loon in India as soon as possible. The government, however, is concerned about possible interference with mobile phones.

As for the issue of "differential pricing" that brought Facebook's plan down, Sharma said that the regulator would be reviewing it every two years due to the pace of digital development. ®

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