Net Neutrality Is Protected in India; Govt. Stops Discrimination Of Internet Usage!

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

In a move to ensure free internet in India, the government has accepted and approved the principle of net neutrality.

As per the rules of net neutrality, mobile operators, internet providers and social media companies can not discriminate in traffic while providing web access by either blocking or throttling some apps, websites and services or by offering "fast lanes" to others.

According to TRAI, operators must be barred from blocking, degrading or slowing internet traffic selectively. "The TC today [Wednesday] approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI", Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said after the meeting. It had then suggested that Internet of Things (IoT), as a class of services, should not be excluded from the scope of restriction on non-discriminatory treatment but certain critical services should be exempt from these rules. A separate committee under the DoT will be set up to earmark such critical services/areas and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will also be consulted on this matter. "In the age of autonomous vehicles, digitised healthcare through sensors, you need to prioritise certain types of traffics".

Part of the deliberations in the upcoming meeting were also on the hotly-debated topic of net neutrality, recommendations for which were made by the regulator and were approved as they were by the Telecom Commission. The decision also carries with it the heft of TRAI's authority. The US Federal Communications (FCC) disapproved net neutrality in November 2017.

Net neutrality is considered to be a prerequisite in fostering startups and prevents established companies from monopolising the internet through their financial muscle.

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Critical applications of the Internet such as remote surgery and self-driving cars are among those which has been kept outside the provisions of Net Neutrality.

In fact, we're finding numerous Lite apps are better than their big brothers and sisters, suggesting that a solution aimed at catering for "the next billion" could really be on to something. The DoT will also be framing a policy on net neutrality traffic management. This policy aims at promoting investments, ease of doing business and emerging technologies such as 5G.

The policy was open till May-end for views of stakeholders and the public, and officials said, more than 1000 comments had come in, which were being reviewed by the department.

The rules grant exceptions to some services, including internet calling and online television provided by telecom companies. This has ultimately led to a reversal of pro-Net Neutrality rules. In May, the US Senate voted in favour of keeping open-internet rules as it attempts to overturn regulator Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal net neutrality rules, something seen as hard in view of challenges at the House of Representatives or the White House.

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