Telecom panel backs internet neutrality

India has long pushed for net neutrality laws, which follow the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally.

From now on, Internet Service Providers (ISP) are not allowed to throttle internet speeds or grant favorable speeds to content providers. So now your Internet provider can not boost the speed of videos on several sites while slowing down video from other video streaming sites.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) on Wednesday approved net neutrality rules recommended by Trai that debar internet and telecom service providers from blocking or throttling content or services or granting greater speed access to a select few.

"The TC today [Wednesday] approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI", Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said after the meeting, reported The Hindu. It had observed that Internet of Things, or IoT, as a class of services, should not be excluded from the scope of restriction on non-discriminatory treatment except for certain critical services. 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. The fight for net neutrality in India was a hot topic in 2016, when Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had floated a consultation paper on the topic.

By reinstating net neutrality rules in the country, the government is taking the control in its own hands. They object that it would lead to the creation of a "non-level playing field" - since the aggregators, who would sell the bandwidth to a thousand or more PDOs, would not be required to pay license fee, spectrum usage charges, nor would they be required to share the revenue with the government.

Supporters of Net Neutrality are rejoicing because Govt. has chose to stop discrimination of Internet usage in India. An intense debate had preceded the Trai decision, with some favouring an open internet policy and some others opposing it.

Others, including Facebook and Google, were also forced to abandon their zero-rating platforms and deals.

The policy NDCP 18 was approved, the thrust of which is to garner investment, ease of doing business and a forward-looking policy with focus on new technologies like 5G.

The Department of Telecom is likely to notify the guidelines soon.

The DoT will also frame a policy on net neutrality traffic management after getting recommendations from Trai on the subject.

The rules grant exceptions to some services, including internet calling and online television provided by telecom companies.

Moreover, Singh said the "horizontal separation of wholesale and retail" is a must if we are to aim for real net neutrality, as it would not allow integration of services with carriage, and actually create a level-playing field.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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