ibusinesslines.com September 21, 2018

India now has the 'world's strongest' net neutrality rules

14 July 2018, 11:17 | Jodi Jackson

Representational image

Net neutrality new policy gets Telecom Commission's green light

Net Neutrality Approved by Government, Internet to Remain Fair For All.

In simple terms, the internet service providers won't be able to block or throttle any web traffic, be it on computers, laptops or mobile phones, and offer fast lanes for content providers who pay for the privilege. They can not engage in practices such as blocking, slowing down or granting preferential speeds to any content.

Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body in the telecom ministry, has approved the new telecom policy and net neutrality recommendations in a meeting on Wednesday, among other proposals.

"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality - which come into effect nearly immediately - will be met with stiff penalties", a senior telecom official Aruna Sundarajan told media. Services such as autonomous vehicles, healthcare requiring remote diagnostics, and certain categories of financial services will be prioritised over, say, social media or WhatsApp chats, because, in such communication, not even a millisecond can be lost.

The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has finally agreed to the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding net neutrality. TRAI head RS Sharma compared these services to ambulances, saying that they can legally disobey traffic rules or enjoy priority status to maintain service quality.

A body of industry representatives and civil society will also be set up to monitor and enforce the net neutrality norms. For most material on the internet, anyway.

The debate over net neutrality started way back in December 2014 when Bharti Airtel chose to charge users extra for Internet calls rolling back its plan after drawing widespread criticism.

Last year, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had chose to roll back its rules on Net neutrality adopted in 2015 which require internet service providers to treat all content travelling through their pipes equally.

In fact, we're finding numerous Lite apps are better than their big brothers and sisters, suggesting that a solution aimed at catering for "the next billion" could really be on to something.

Also, they can not create zero-rated platforms which offer only a certain category of services/websites as free. This policy aims at promoting investments, ease of doing business and emerging technologies such as 5G.

Telecom regulator Trai has already grounded Facebook's Free Basics and Airtel's Zero under the policy of free and open internet. The decision that came in June in the USA paves the way for service providers to slow down or block particular content for users.

But telecom companies believe that the rules could hamper innovation. Before introducing any new tariff plans, firstly it would be checked against the fundamentals of net neutrality and secondly, Trai will also continue to regulate traffic.

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