TRAI supports net neutrality, says services should be free of bias

29 November, 2017, 01:00 | Author: Regina Lloyd
  • Trai chairman R.S. Sharma. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will issue its much-awaited recommendations on net neutrality today

The Trai's recommendations comes at a time when there is a debate raging over Net neutrality globally.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's headquarters in New Delhi.

Industry stakeholders Tuesday gave a mixed reaction to the telecom regulator Trai's recommendations on Net Neutrality (NN), with some terming the recommendations as "progressive" and "pragmatic" and others finding them "a bit simplistic in the light of increasing complexity in the economics of Internet". As expected, the regulator has backed the core principles of NetNeutrality, stating that no service provider can discriminate or put a restriction or interfere in the treatment of content.

"The Authority reiterates that the use of the internet should be facilitated in such a manner that it advances the free speech rights of citizens, by ensuring plurality and diversity of views, opinions, and ideas", TRAI said in its net neutrality recommendations.

These licensing terms should provide explicit restrictions on any sort of discrimination in access based on the content the consumer chooses to access.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump earlier this year, called the current rules, which were passed by the Obama administration in 2015, "heavy-handed", and said the FCC would stop micro-managing internet in the US. He says that huge things are going to happen on the internet and it is important for India to keep it open.

It also said the scope of the proposed principles on non-discriminatory treatment apply specifically to "Internet Access Services", which are generally available to the public.

May 30, 2016: TRAI's pre-consultation on net neutrality. However, the specialized services may be offered by the service provider only if they are not usable as a replacement of Internet access services.

What is the broader thought process that went behind Trai's recommendations on net neutrality?

Specialised services are essentially those services that have extremely critical quality requirement, which are not really internet related. Essentially, what we are saying is if telecom service providers have charged for data, then they should just do data relaying.

TRAI also notes that "DoT may establish a multi-stakeholder body with framework for collaborative mechanism" for "monitoring and enforcement" of net neutrality recommendations.

"The service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols, or user equipment". He should have the freedom to exercise traffic management practices.



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