The debate around Internet openness and access is growing in India and Equal Rating models can help take more people online, experts said here on Saturday.
"Bringing the Internet to all people, especially the poor, is one of the greatest challenges of our time and future innovations to connect the unconnected must adhere to the tenets of Equal Rating," said Jochai Ben-Avie, Senior Global Policy Manager at Mozilla at a panel discussion in the capital.
The discussion was organised by open-source web browser Mozilla in partnership with legal services organisation SFLC.in after announcing "Equal Rating Innovation Challenge" that will support promising solutions through expert mentorship and $250,000 (roughly Rs. 1.7 crores) funding.
"Mozilla's 'Equal Rating Innovation Challenge' is designed to catalyse new thinking and innovation in providing affordable access and cultivating digital literacy," Ben-Avie added.
Calling Mozilla's challenge a real "game changer" which can help bring the next 300 million Indians online, Mahesh Murthy, Founder of Pinstorm and co-Founder at Seedfund said: "We want companies to come up with solutions that offer free net access, without the restrictions - and with the freedom for a user to visit any site she chooses."
(Also see: Facebook Shuts Down Free Basics in India)
According to Mishi Choudhary, Executive Director at SFLC.in, "connecting the unconnected while propagating the values of an open Internet is what we all must work for.
"Mozilla's challenge is the correct way to solve the problem of access. I hope for more such initiatives to be rolled out and we can address the challenge innovatively to educate every being on earth through an open Internet," Choudhary added.
The $250,000 funding will be split into three categories - Best Overall (based on scalability), Best Overall Runner-up and Most Novel Solution (based on experiment with a potential high reward).
Submissions are open till January 6.