Telecom regulator backs net neutrality

Telecom regulator backs net neutrality

Telecom regulator backs net neutrality

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.

These recommendations make Net Neutrality - the principle that says that all bits on the internet should be treated equally - rules in India far more ironclad than in the United States, where the FCC moved last week to repeal rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing websites, or charging a premium for "fast lanes" for things like high-quality streaming.

Internet should be open and accessible to everyone, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman R S Sharma said after releasing recommendations on the net neutrality. 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.

With that, India is one step closer to ensuring that net neutrality is enforced nationwide.

This is at odds with the USA regulator, which seems to be moving towards dismantling rules on net neutrality. CDNs enable telecom deliver content within their network without going through the public internet in order to create a content ecosystem to drive user traction.

TRAI logo TRAI website
TRAI logo TRAI website

That means no blocking or throttling content, and no fast lanes for content sources that offer to pay for the privilege (with an exclusion for content delivery networks).

Making an exception for specialized services, the regulator said such services could be provided as long as the service provider wasn't resorting to them as a replacement for "Internet Access Services' that are at the heart of net neutrality".

"The service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, ender or receiver, protocols or user equipment", TRAI made it clear to service providers in the recommendations.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's headquarters in New Delhi.

In a long-awaited report on net neutrality released on Tuesday, the telecom regulator said it was not in favour of any "discriminatory treatment" with data, including blocking, slowing or offering preferential speeds or treatment to any content. "Hence, such a heavy-handed approach is not necessary, as is now being proposed by TRAI", Mathews said.

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