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Telecom regulator upholds principle of net neutrality

29 November, 2017, 00:58 | Author: Paula Vaughn
  • The regulator will come up with recommendations which will be abiding to all

In a major move upholding the principles of net neutrality, telecom regulator TRAI has issued recommendations on the contentious issue.

The COAI, he said, is particularly upset that over-the-top (OTT) communications service providers, who offer data-based call services, remain exempt from the provisions of Net Neutrality, while licensed telcos are not, suggesting that licensed operators are on a lower footing than unlicensed players. Internet today is a great platform for innovation, banking, public services, government applications such as tele-medicine, health, education, agriculture.

Mobile phone companies, however, are miffed with the "piece meal" approach of Trai's recommendations to Net Neutrality and are likely to shortly seek DoT's intervention on a host of issues.

Meanwhile, supporters of net neutrality back the principle that the entire internet traffic should be available to everyone on equal terms without any discrimination based on business considerations of service providers.

"The discriminatory treatment in the context of treatment of content would include any form of discrimination, restriction or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content".

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Using the analogy of a toll road to explain net neutrality, Trai chairman RS Sharma tells Pranav Mukul why it is important for the country to adopt a neutral internet. "However, critical IoT services, which may be identified by DoT, and which specify the definition of specialised services, would be automatically excluded".

"We expect Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel to be key beneficiaries as they already have presence in content platforms", the report said.

"Specialised services equally state that exception of specialised services should not utilised to circumvent overall implementation of net neutrality. Content would incude all content, applications, services and any other data, including its end-point information, that can be accessed or transmitted over the internet", the TRAI recommends. Backers of net neutrality have demanded against having any traffic management practices, except in cases of emergencies, such as natural disasters.

With regard to the penalty, we have recommended changes in licensing conditions. The recommendations are completely consistent with the basic construct of NASSCOM recommendations calling for unrestrained and unimpeded access to all lawful content and services subject to national regulations related to security and privacy, and preventing service providers leveraging their exclusive control over access infrastructure to speed up, slow down or selectively enable or prevent access to certain content.

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