September 18, 2018

Centre upholds Net neutrality proposals

14 July 2018, 11:18 | Megan Pierce

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

TRAI's announcement followed after several activists called out Facebook's plan, saying it violated net neutrality rules and ensured an unfair advantage for deep-pocketed American companies.

Net neutrality means service providers have to treat all traffic equally on internet, and keep the charges same on content. The laws prohibit blocking, degrading, slowing down or giving preferential treatment to users, The Times of India reported.

Sundararajan explained that according to India's rules on net neutrality, telecom or Internet service providers should be barred from signing pacts that can lead to discriminatory treatment based on content, sender, receiver, protocols or even equipment.

In a landmark decision that could have a far reaching impact, the centre approved the basic principles of net neutrality in India, adding that deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality will be met with stiff penalties. It also bans ISPs from inking deals with corporates to boost their websites and services from loading faster, a critical issue that made net neutrality a huge campaign in 2015. "Its core principles will be followed except in the case of critical services where you need to prioritise certain kinds of traffic". Earlier in 2016, the fight for net neutrality in India was a hot topic when TRAI floated a consultation paper on the topic.

"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality-which will come into effect nearly immediately-will be met with stiff penalties, including possible cancellation of licence", she added.

As for the "non-level playing field" argument, these private telecom companies in question are huge multinationals, and comparing them to the PDO aggregators - who would retail internet to a thousand or more PDOs - is not valid to begin with, but more on that in a bit.

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India is expected to have 500 million internet users by June.

Some mission-critical services like autonomous cars, content delivery network (CDN), and remote surgery are out of the framework of TRAI.

Singh agrees. "Retailing connectivity in this manner is the way to go if we want to quickly expand the internet access among the people, if we want to take the internet cheaply to the poor people of the country".

"A light-touch regulatory approach should be adopted so that innovation is not hampered by the Net neutrality rules".

The government on May 1had released the draft National Telecom Policy 2018 to reform the licencing and regulatory regime and promote the ease of doing business. After a campaign The Logical Indian ran on social media that lasted for months, 70 Lakh responses were sent to TRAI in support of Net Neutrality.

Relevant regulations would be amended to require all telecoms to disclose the Internet download speeds of their services, as well as the conditions under which certain services are provided, the commission said.

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