India reportedly approves net neutrality rules

14 July, 2018, 11:15 | Author: Sammy Rose
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Trai submitted its recommendations backing net neutrality, the principle of an open internet, to the commission in November.

Net neutrality means service providers have to treat all traffic equally on internet, and keep the charges same on content.

Under the Indian-specific laws, the Times reports that mobile operators, internet providers, and social-media and internet companies can not engage in, or seek, preferential treatment.

Alongside the net neutrality rules, the highest decision-making body in the Department of Telecommunications also approved new telecom policy - national Digital Communications Policy (NDCP), 2018.

"The Telecom Commission (TC) today approved net neutrality as recommended by Trai expect some critical services will be kept out of its purview", Telecom Commission Chairman Aruna Sundararajan told reporters here.

A separate committee has been set up under the Department of Telecom (DoT) to examine what these critical services will be. 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.

Net Neutrality, over the years, has become somewhat of a household term in the Indian netscape. This clause has been put in because these services often need to prioritise some things and situations over others.

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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.

"This (Net Neutrality) is an evolving area and we can't be rigid while prescribing norms", the DoT official said.

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.

The world (especially the US) should take a cue and do the same.

India's telecom regulator TRAI has issued rules to unequivocally protect net neutrality principles while Trump appointee and FCC chair Ajit Pai is well on his way to dismantling it in the US. It then launched the Airtel Zero platform which provided free access to certain websites that paid for the service. It also allows these providers to ignore net neutrality in case of emergencies, security threats or to manage high traffic across the network. "Therefore, India must have ease of doing business and enabling policy environment", she said.

Relevant regulations would be amended to require all telecoms to disclose the Internet download speeds of their services, as well as the conditions under which certain services are provided, the commission said. At least 29 states introduced more than 65 bills aimed at protecting net neutrality and seven states enacted executive orders that made it illegal for state agencies to enter contracts with ISPs that don't uphold net neutrality.

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