Telecom Commission approves new net neutrality rules in India

Centre approves telecom authority’s recommendations on net neutrality

Centre approves telecom authority’s recommendations on net neutrality

It's a huge potential market that companies are racing to tap, and Indian activists believe net neutrality is vital to ensure that hundreds of millions of Indians aren't exploited in the process.

TRAI's announcement followed after several activists called out Facebook's Internet.org plan, saying it violated net neutrality rules and ensured an unfair advantage for deep-pocketed American companies. TRAI head RS Sharma compared these services to ambulances, saying that they can legally disobey traffic rules or enjoy priority status to maintain service quality.

Whilst the U.S. is still fumbling after FCC head Ajit "Pumpkin" Pie deregulated the internet to please his cable pals, India has just past a whole chunk of recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Association of India (TRAI) to ensure it will never go the same way. "Other countries, and especially European Union, allow differential pricing in some cases." .

India has reportedly approved net neutrality rules.

Here are the five essential things you should know about Net Neutrality.

Net neutrality rules mean that the Internet Service providers must avoid any form of discrimination against the content by blocking, throttling or increasing the internet speed for an individual source of content. The principles described in net neutrality only exempt new emerging technologies such as autonomous driving, tele-medicine or remote-diagnostic services, which might require faster than normal speeds. This adds a level of digital intelligence to devices that are otherwise dumb, enabling them to communicate without intervention from a human being.

"It is way better than what we were up against when we started, when we thought India would have no net neutrality at all", he said. "Now the licence agreements (with service providers) will be immediately amended and will be subject to principles of net neutrality". "This should come into force nearly immediately", said telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan. For this goal, the government is looking at setting up a multi-stakeholder body. The monitoring and enforcement body will have telcos, ISPs, IoT platform providers, civil society, consumer, and government representatives as its members.

But what are the fears these new rules are supposed to hold at bay? To use other services, users would have had to pay additional charges.

However, there are few usages of Internet, which has been kept outside its scope, as of now.

Or take, for instance, zero-rated platforms.

Facebook Free Basics where certain content like Facebook is provided for free will remain proscribed in India. However, it allowed certain exemptions for specialised services which are optimised for specific content and are not internet services. This then makes it harder for smaller players to compete in the marketplace and quashes innovation. This lead to the BBC calling India's internet policies "the world's most progressive policy on equal internet access for all". Which is true. Zuckerberg & Co. countered that it's actually a way to connect people who may otherwise not have internet access. Telcos can not discriminate against Internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access.

The Telecom Commissionaire of India has agreed to the amendments made by the regulating body Telecom Regulatory Association of India (TRAI). "Numerous 5G applications will have stringent data communication requirements, such as high reliability or minimal delay which require traffic management techniques", he said.

However, today's new announcement is not a surprise. Under the net neutrality regulations, an ISP is not allowed to block or slow down contents or website intentionally.

DoT is also planning to frame a policy on traffic management practices for the service providers.

Last month, the U.S. officially repealed rules that governed the way net providers treated the data that travelled across their networks.

The rules grant exceptions to some services, including internet calling and online television provided by telecom companies. We deliberated on the issue for quite some time. After a campaign The Logical Indian ran on social media that lasted for months, 70 Lakh responses were sent to TRAI in support of Net Neutrality. Now we wait and watch how the others play this.