Published: Thu, November 30, 2017
Sci-tech | By Javier West

MY BIZ: Trai is backing Net Neutrality all the way

MY BIZ: Trai is backing Net Neutrality all the way

Even as the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) looks poised on destroying the idea of an open and free internet, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has gone against such attempts, and in its latest guidelines has tried to ensure that the internet as a resource remains accessible to all without any discrimination.

Trai had partially addressed the topic of Net neutrality in February 2016 when it ruled in favour of prohibiting discriminatory tariffs for data.

While free web access is a good thing - especially in developing economies - it can't come with damning restrictions like the ones Facebook has in mind if the goal is to get everyone on an open and equal internet. TRAI previously prevented Facebook from pushing Free Basics, a zero-rated service that granted access to select sites and services on its platform for free, while operating as a gatekeeper that could decide which sites would be allowed in.

After over one year of consultations and heated debate, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will issue its much-awaited recommendations on net neutrality. While the regulator has not laid down a clear definition of specialised services, it said the DoT may identify these services, and the status should only be given if a service follows two broad principles.

The regulator has also suggested exempting CDNs from the scope of net neutrality rules, arguing that CDNs add efficiency to the network by reducing latency, mitigating congestion and freeing up network capacity for other purposes. "It would also not restrict adoption of reasonable traffic management practices by the service provider", said the recommendations. This means that cellular service providers who have their own content platform and are offering these services on their own network (content delivery networks) can charge differential pricing.

If adopted by the Modi government, Internet service providers would not be able to engage in practices such as "blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content".

Further, Trai wants telecom operators to declare their traffic management practices as and when deployed and the impact it may have had on the users. "Hence, such a heavy-handed approach is not necessary, as is now being proposed by TRAI", Mathews said.

Like this: