TRAI bats for net neutrality, says internet services should be non-discriminatory

Deseret News        Letter to the Editor

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.

Lauding the involvement of content providers, service providers, access providers, research, and academia to monitor violations and make recommendations to the authority on regulations and standards, Nasscom said such a uniform approach would facilitate fair, alert and effective implementation of Net Neutrality.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) recommendations for a free internet assume significance at a time when the USA plans to repeal its existing rules on net neutrality, rules which will essentially allow telecom firms in the U.S. to restrict broadband speeds and favour their own services.

"The authority has recommended an amendment to the license agreements to clarify the principle of unrestricted access given under the appropriate license agreements".

"For the industry, the recommendations are pragmatic in the sense that it recognises the requirements of expansion of digital services in the country, when it makes reasonable exceptions for specialised services, reasonable traffic management practices or fulfilling global treaty agreements", IAMAI said in a statement.

Consequently, on issues that concern consumer protection, transparency and monitoring of compliance, the telecom regulator may go ahead and issue regulations as it sees fit.

Trai's recommendation comes days after United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) led by Ajit Pai suggested plans to scrap landmark 2015 rules meant to ensure a free and open internet. OTT is an application which is accessible over the Internet and companies offering this services ride on operator networks that offer Internet access services such as social networks, search engines and video aggregation sites. In the first week of September, it was reported that TRAI's recommendations on net neutrality would be out in two months. He says that huge things are going to happen on the internet and it is important for India to keep it open.

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.

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TRAI's recommendations acknowledged the role various public consultations and inputs from various stakeholders played in formulating the recommendations, which will now be presented to the government's Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The US plan did not deter Trai chairman R.S. Sharma from spelling out recommendations backing a free internet.

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

Specialised services are essentially those services that have extremely critical quality requirement, which are not really internet related.

Trai noted that the service providers should be restricted from entering into any agreement.

"This principle would apply to any discriminatory treatment based on the sender or receiver, the network protocols, or the user equipment, but not to specialised services or other exclusions".

"The Internet Access Service Providers may take reasonable measurement for traffic management, provided the same are proportionate, transient and transparent".

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