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The On-going Debate on Net Neutrality

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The On-going Debate on Net Neutrality

As India’s TRAI asks people for their views on  Net Neutrality, American TV host John Oliver’s 13-minute show tells you why you should want to keep the internet free.  U.S. voted in 2014 to maintain net neutrality.

 

Net Neutrality is the broad principle that Internet Service Providers (Vodafone, Airtel, MTNL, Tata Docomo, MTS) should enable access to all content and applications equally when an end user requests access to it.

 

The continuation of this policy is needed in a developing country like India as it is a progressive idea that delinks Internet connectivity with the applications and content that run on it. Net Neutrality is also a public good as it levels the playing field for content, app players and consumers. For example, an entrepreneur’s start-up should be allowed the same chance to succeed as an established company, and access to a student/researcher’s blog shouldn’t be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.

 

Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI) wants to allow telecom companies to regulate Over-The-Top services (OTT) such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, etc. This policy would allow telecoms to charge separately for WhatsApp messages, charge for Skype calls and control speeds to access various websites.

 

TRAI has brought out a consultation paper on:-

  1. Should OTTS be licensed? If yes, how? Under current rules or new ones.
  2. Should we leave net neutrality undecided and let the market in future decide its fate?

 

TRAI has now asked for suggestions and consumers have been asked 20 questions based on the above 2 points. People have to send emails to a TRAI prescribed email ID in support of or against net neutrality from April 24th to May 8th.

 

In 2014, United States voted on this subject and this is what President Obama had to say at the end of the debate, “What you’ve been seeing is some lobbyists saying that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites … And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is incredible equality/democracy there.”

 

You can access the TRAI website here.

 

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