Internet must be open: TRAI backs net neutrality

by Fredrick Graves November 30, 2017, 12:24
Internet must be open: TRAI backs net neutrality

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.

They also bar differential speeds for various offerings by internet service providers.

In its recommendation order, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has indicated that these principles of non-discrimination and equal access can be brought into force with amendments to the license agreements that govern bodies which provide Internet services in India.

Even as the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) looks poised on destroying the idea of an open and free internet, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has gone against such attempts, and in its latest guidelines has tried to ensure that the internet as a resource remains accessible to all without any discrimination. Based on the responses received, open house discussions were held in three cities.

However, the telecom regulator has kept content delivery networks out of the regulation.

With this, TRAI has effectively drawn a red line and shunned calls from telecom operators for creating fast and slow lanes on the internet depending on the data and service you wish to use.

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If the government accepts the proposal, ISPs will not be able to block or throttle any web traffic or offer fast lanes for content providers who pay for the facility.

However, this is not the first time that TRAI has ruled in favour of upholding the ideals of a free and open internet.

Making an exception for specialized services, the regulator said such services could be provided as long as the service provider wasn't resorting to them as a replacement for "Internet Access Services' that are at the heart of net neutrality".

The regulator will come out with a consultation paper on over-the-top (OTT) players soon.

However, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Director General Rajan Mathews said the suggestion to form a committee to review and decide on network management violations is "unnecessarily bureaucratic", and not in keeping with "light touch regulation or the ease of doing business". Internet firms lauded Trai's recommendations, while telecom operators said that the regulator has applied a "narrow definition" to the topic.


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