Friday, 21 September, 2018

India approves the new Net Neutrality rules

Net Neutrality Net Neutrality Gets Telecom Commission's Nod, New Telecom Policy Cleared
Cecil Davis | 14 July, 2018, 11:13

In a bid to ensure that netizens continue to have free and fair access to the internet, the government recently approved the principles of net neutrality in India. The Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) said: "We have already expressed our support on issues pertaining to non-discriminatory use of the internet, including no blocking, no throttling and adoption of same service-same rules".

And this collaboration between Trai and Berec came at the right time for net neutrality - four days after open internet rules expired in the United States, legally allowing American ISPs to slow down, block or even offer paid prioritisation to some websites.

The Telecom Commission, the apex decision-making body in the telecom ministry, on Wednesday approved Net neutrality by backing the principles of a free and open internet and also cleared the new telecom policy, which could garner investments of over $100 billion by 2022.

According to TRAI Chief, RS Sharma, there are two categories of services that will be exempted from net neutrality rules-critical IoT services and specialised services.

Almost eight months after the Telecom Regulatory Authority expressed its explicit support for the policy of net neutrality, the Centre's department of telecommunication (DoT) approved the rules governing the same.

TRAI recommendations also stand against zero-rating plans which lets an ISP give free services to some customers. This clause has been put in because these services often need to prioritise some things and situations over others. The most visible casualty was Facebook's Free Basics service, which offered Indians free access to a limited number of websites.

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While India is the world's second-largest telecom market, only about 35 percent of the country is connected to the internet, Sundararajan told CNBC-TV18.

On the new telecom policy, she said, "Key aspects and enabling provisions to reduce the levies have been mentioned in the policy and these would have to be translated into specific proposals, which would be done once the cabinet approves it".

No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged by the service provider for the objective of evading the prohibition in this regulation.

Some mission-critical services like autonomous cars, content delivery network (CDN), and remote surgery are out of the framework of TRAI.

The Senate is meeting to revive net neutrality, but chances are Trump Republicans will back the FCC and net neutrality will die. Under the net neutrality regulations, an ISP is not allowed to block or slow down contents or website intentionally.

DoT will seek recommendations from TRAI on traffic management for critical services. Telecom companies in several countries could lobby regulators to put an end to net neutrality.