Published: Wed, November 29, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

TRAI releases recommendations on net neutrality

TRAI releases recommendations on net neutrality

The TRAI said for monitoring and investigation of violations, a collaborative mechanism has been recommended to be established in the form of a multi-stakeholder body comprising members representing different categories of TSPs and Internet Service Providers, large and small content providers, representative from research and academia, civil society organisations and consumer representatives.

It's worth noting how different India's stance on net neutrality is from that of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai.

"Specialised service i.e services other than Internet Access Services which are optimised for specific content, protocols or user equipment, and where the optimisation is necessary in order to meet specific quality of service requirements, shall be exempted from the principles of discriminatory treatment", said the regulator. These discriminations apply specifically to 'Internet Access Services, ' which are generally available to the public. Net neutrality is core to the future of India's digital economy. They also say that any service provider or platform allowed to offer some content as cheaper or faster is conferred with unsafe amounts of power in gate-keeping.

"Those critical IoT services, which may be identified by DoT as satisfying the definition of specialised services, would be automatically excluded", it added. In India as well, TRAI has been debating over the issue - through consultation papers - for some two years now. Based on the responses received, open house discussions were held in three cities.

Sharma declined to comment on the time frame for making the latest net neutrality framework effective, saying the regulator has sent its recommendations to the telecom department and the latter has to now take a view.

The ruling, however, doesn't come without exemptions. The telecom regulator had earlier issued a consultaion paper for over-the-top service.

This comes as welcome news at a time when in USA the regulatory agency for that country, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), intends to repeal net neutrality rules, that were adopted in 2015, to allow telecom companies to regulate and charge for access to websites. Backers of net neutrality have demanded against having any traffic management practices, except in cases of emergencies, such as natural disasters. That they should be able to manage this traffic.

With the possibility of the United States dismantling its net-neutrality regulations, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with heightened standards of enforcing the principles of net-neutrality. Along with these, we have also prescribed disclosure norms, where we say that whenever such practices are deployed they should inform the Trai and the government, and the impact it had on user experience. Most recently, during the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS), the Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad proclaimed that the citizens' right to access the Internet is "non-negotiable".

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