TRAI backs Net neutrality

TRAI Weighs in Favour of Net Neutrality, Proposes License Amendments

'The core principles of net neutrality, non-discriminatory treatment of all content, treating internet as an open platform, we've upheld them, ' said Trai chairman RS Sharma.

In February 2016, the Trai had ruled in favour of net neutrality by barring internet service providers from offering discriminatory tariffs for data.

"Internet should be kept open and free and not cannibalised".

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) which has been debating the hot issue of net neutrality for almost two years, said in its recommendations to the telecom department to amend license terms to prevent any kind of discrimination on internet services based on content, apps or any other service or data that travels on the internet.

The latest recommendations go one step further. First, "such services are not usable or offered as a replacement for Internet access services"; and second, "the provision of such services should not be detrimental to the availability and overall quality of Internet access services".

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This is at odds with the United States regulator, which seems to be moving towards dismantling rules on net neutrality. The paper sought views on ways to ensure non-discriminatory access to content on the internet and was followed up by an open house discussion in August involving activists and policy experts. CDNs enable telecom deliver content within their network without going through the public internet in order to create a content ecosystem to drive user traction.

Trai, in its recommendations on Tuesday, upholded free and fair access to internet in India, it barred internet service providers from discrimination or interference in content including blocking, slowing down or giving preferential speeds or treatment to any content on internet. This means that cellular service providers who have their own content platform and are offering these services on their own network (content delivery networks) can charge differential pricing.

TRAI has also suggested allowing telecom and Internet service providers to deploy "reasonable" traffic management practices from time to time, given that such interventions are "proportionate, transient and transparent in nature".

The regulator has recommended for DoT to set up a panel of telecom operators, ISPs, content providers, civil society organisations and consumer representatives to monitor and probe violations. "Hence, such a heavy-handed approach is not necessary, as is now being proposed by TRAI", Mathews said.

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