India bats for equal internet access to everyone, approves net neutrality

Ceria Alfonso
Julio 14, 2018

The Indian government has thrown its weight behind a free and open internet, stating that the internet is an open platform that must not be controlled by any entity that could compromise the availability of content to any consumer by "data discrimination".

India's stand on net neutrality also came at a time when the U.S. had repealed its free internet rules and chose to allow internet providers to charge more for certain content or giving preferential treatment to certain websites through commercial agreements. So now your Internet provider can not boost the speed of videos on several sites while slowing down video from other video streaming sites.

The Net Neutrality norms were recommended by Trai past year barring service providers from discriminating against internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access.

Confirming the news of net neutrality rule has been approved, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters, "The Telecom Commission today approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI, except some critical services will be kept out of its purview". 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. The aggregator would aggregate internet bandwidth from multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and retail it to the PDOs - and the aggregators would not need a telecom licence, but only to register themselves with the Department of Telecom (DoT). Services such as autonomous vehicles, healthcare requiring remote diagnostics, and certain categories of financial services will be prioritised over, say, social media or WhatsApp chats, because, in such communication, not even a millisecond can be lost. The decision also carries with it the heft of TRAI's authority.

In case of violation of the core principles of net neutrality, the penalty would consist of a two-stage process of review and appeal.

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Some questioned if subscribers of the low-priced plan were given slower Internet connection speeds than those who pay more, the commission said.

India is expected to have 500 million internet users by June. "This should come into force nearly immediately", said telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan.

Also, they can not create zero-rated platforms which offer only a certain category of services/websites as free. 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.

Trai had, however, allowed fast lanes for specialised services that DoT must define, and permitted telcos to use traffic management practices to maintain the quality of service.

Telecom companies can deliver their content without accessing the public internet on CDNs network.

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