TRAI Weighs in Favour of Net Neutrality, Proposes License Amendments

Trai To Issue Suggestions On Net Neutrality Today

Trai backs net neutrality; says internet services must be non-discriminatory

They said TRAI did not address the issues related to connecting the unconnected in India and licensing of apps or websites providing calls and messaging services such as Whatsapp, Skype, Viber and Google Duo.

Net neutrality was given a boost on Tuesday, when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) brought out its much-awaited recommendations.

The "discriminatory treatment" would include any form of discrimination, restriction or interference in the treatment of content, including blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content, TRAI also said. It has suggested amendments to the existing telecom license agreements which will make the regime for non-discriminatory treatment of content robust. Nasscom and Data Security Council of India (DSCI) also hailed the recommendations, saying these would promote "equitable access" to the internet, and ensure a level-playing field for IT and OTT services providers to innovate and provide a constantly expanding range of new services.

In US, the net neutrality issue is gaining momentum with telecom regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) taking back the 2015 net neutrality rules.

Industry experts, across domain, have hailed the TRAI recommendations on net neutrality.

"In line with its previous stand, TRAI has upheld the idea of a free and open internet".

Furthermore, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) which enable a Telecom Service Provider (TSP) to deliver content within its network without going through the public internet, are exempted from the scope of any restrictions on non-discriminatory treatment. The principles of net neutrality states that the telecom service providers and ISPs can not speed up or slow down the internet speed as per their will or as per their marketing strategies.

However, Trai has allowed certain exemptions including specialised services and the time-critical IoT services (like autonomous cars).

What is the broader thought process that went behind Trai's recommendations on net neutrality? They do however say that they will not discriminate and throttle based on content. "You will find answers regarding OTT (over-the-top), VoIP (Internet based calls)", Trai Chairman RS Sharma told reporters on the sidelines of an open house discussion on in-flight connectivity (IFC) for providing phone call and data services.

These reasonable traffic management practices should be transparent and transient. They also say that any service provider or platform allowed to offer some content as cheaper or faster is conferred with unsafe amounts of power in gate-keeping. "We are still studying the recommendations and will update our views as we will note key points".

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