The Telecom Commission has approved the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s recommendations on Net Neutrality.
WHAT DOES NET NEUTRALITY MEAN?
Net Neutrality is the principle that requires the Internet service providers to not indulge in any kind of preferential treatment to some over others, except in certain types of services decided by the DoT as the provision of these services will not be detrimental to the availability and quality of Internet Access services.
They may do a basic amount of traffic management, but must not offer or get a special treatment with regard to content and speed of any websites, social media platforms, etc., blocking some content, slowing them down, while giving fast lane to others.
This will ensure equal access to the Internet for all, and will prevent discriminatory practices.
Net Neutrality violations will now mean a violation of Telecom Operator license conditions. The amendment includes in it’s ambit, all four access services licences, namely: Universal License, Universal Access Service License, ISP License, Cellular Mobile Telephony Service License.
Malpractices can lead to the cancellation of the operator’s license. The penalty will be in accordance to the laws for violation of licence conditions.
Content Delivery networks have been exempted from these restrictions, given that they perform the task of optimisation of traffic between ISPs, and anyway do not operate at the ‘last mile’ of internet access between the ISP and the user.
THE CHAIRMAN SAYS:
The TRAI has also regulated upon the differential pricing of data access.
The TRAI Chairman, Mr. R. S. Sharma said, that internet is an important resource for India, given the backdrop of the Digital India Programme and the StartUp India programme, and therefore must be “open” and “accessible” to all alike, indicating that the service providers must not become gate-keepers in the way.
The TRAI can allow differential treatment to certain content, if so directed by the government. The Government has to ,however, make public announcements of such special treatment.
This comes in the midst of the extensive debate challenging Net Neutrality in the USA, claiming that it disregards the right of the service providers to editorial discretion.
However, the larger picture in India believes that it is essential to not provide fast lanes to say, entertainment video streamings, and instead, ensure a free and equal flow of information.