WhatsApp Remains Free in India

WhatsApp, the messaging service firm owned by Facebook, is not enforcing its $1 a year fee in India.
Normally, the service is free for a year and the US-based firm charges users a dollar a year after that. That is not to say the policy will be enforced indefinitely. "Monetization is on the cards,” said Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp VP. “It will happen over the next few years.”

In part, the issue is infrastructure. Low use of credit cards makes collection of the fee difficult.

Another likely driver is that defraying the fee increases app adoption.

WhatsApp already works with carriers to provide “no incremental cost” access to WhatsApp in India, and elsewhere.

The upside for mobile service providers is the boost in demand for mobile Internet access features and services.

Ironically, some might note, that policy--which has clear value for customers and for service providers and WhatsApp, long term--might be said to violate “network neutrality.”

And that is one problem with net neutrality: it prevents app provider and access providers from doing things that directly benefit people who need Internet access.
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