June 21, 2018

Net Neutrality promotes equitable access to internet: Nasscom

29 November 2017, 12:58 | Lionel James

Trai To Issue Suggestions On Net Neutrality Today


Indian telecom regulator TRAI has released its recommendations on "Net Neutrality".

They said TRAI did not address the issues related to connecting the unconnected in India and licensing of apps or websites providing calls and messaging services such as Whatsapp, Skype, Viber and Google Duo.

Backing net neutrality in India, the telecom regulator TRAI has said it is not in favour of any "discriminatory treatment" of data, including blocking, slowing or offering preferential speeds or treatment to any content.

Our unified license document states very clearly that there should be unrestricted and non-discriminatory access.

"For the industry, the recommendations are pragmatic in the sense that it recognises the requirements of expansion of digital services in the country, when it makes reasonable exceptions for specialised services, reasonable traffic management practices or fulfilling worldwide treaty agreements", IAMAI said in a statement.

The telecom operators should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment, said Trai.

Consequently, on issues that concern consumer protection, transparency and monitoring of compliance, the telecom regulator may go ahead and issue regulations as it sees fit.

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"We will be bringing out Net neutrality recommendations tomorrow". "This will help deliver on India's pledge to the global agenda to ensure every citizen's right to unfettered access to the internet", said Nasscom and DSCI".

The Trai's support for net neutrality came at a time when a debate is raging over US Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai's recent proposal to dismantle the 2015 rules, which require ISPs (internet service providers) to treat all content travelling through their pipes equally. However, the specialized services may be offered by the service provider only if they are not usable as a replacement of Internet access services.

According to TRAI, operators must be barred from blocking, degrading or slowing internet traffic selectively.

"There are some exceptions which have been allowed, but that is for services that don't mirror what is on the Internet, or are critical services which need to be specified by the government", Pahwa observed.

TRAI also says that IoT services are not excluded from the scope of the restrictions on non-discriminatory treatment. He should have the freedom to exercise traffic management practices.

In its response, Nasscom said: "As India undergoes data revolution, the regulator's recommendations are in line with our view for unrestrained access to all lawful content and services but subject to national security and privacy".

The government had originally asked the TRAI to submit recommendations on net neutrality in March 2016, in order to finalise its official policy on the controversial issue.

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