NEW DELHI: Telecom operators, like Airtel and Vodafone, have approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indi (TRAI) to allow them to block apps and websites and also charge money from both consumers and businesses to the detriment of users, a CNN-IBN report said.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the principle that all legal Internet content should be equally accessible to consumers and that Internet service providers should not favour, block or slow down access to any of it.
It means that ISPs must provide access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.
Determining how to protect this concept has been a long and complicated process.
While deciding the future of the Internet, a proposal was put forth in the US, which essentially meant that providers could charge companies for faster delivery of their content. This would essentially create two lanes on the information highway, and one would be a lot faster than the other.
Simplifying the concept, Medianama says: Telecom operators/ISPs are access services providers, and can control either how much you access, what you access, how fast you access and how much you pay to access content and services on the Internet.
It’s important for access to knowledge, services and free speech, as well as freedom and ease of doing business online, for this access to be neutral:
- All sites must be equally accessible
- The same access speed at the telco/ISP level for each (independent of telco selection)
- The same data cost for access to each site (per KB/MB).
This means, Net Neutrality is about:
- No telecom-style licensing of Internet companies
- No gateways
- No speeding up of specific websites (that may or may not pay telcos)
- No “zero rating” or making some sites free over others
Opponents argue that this puts small startups and companies with less money at a disadvantage.
The current debate over net neutrality has been sparked off following Airtel coming up with its ‘Zero marketing’ platform that allows users to access apps of participating app developers at zero data charges.
The move was widely condemned, but Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal favoured it leading to many user downvoting the Flipkart app.
Why you should worry
Net neutrality is a must today. If there is no net neutrality, the Internet will cease to function the way it has all this while. It means ISPs will be able to charge companies like YouTube or Netflix as they consume more bandwidth, and eventually the load of the extra sum will be pushed to the consumers, says FirstPost.com
Similarly, ISPs can then create slow as well as fast Internet lanes, which will mean all websites cannot be accessed at the same speed and one can do so only on paying an additional sum. For instance, currently, you have a standard data package and access all the content at the same speed, irrespective of whether its an international website or desi. Similarly, ISPs can also charge extra for the free calls you make using services like WhatsApp, Skype and others, and eventually the load of additional payable sum by the OTT players will be pushed onto consumers, FirstPost adds.
Save the Internet, cry Indians
People from a cross section of society including politicians, who are not known for taking any kind of criticism lightly, and celebrities are rallying up to save the Indian Internet, reports CNN-IBN.
Supporting the campaign to save net neutrality, thousands of Indians have voiced their support and the number is growing by the minute.
Indians have sent over 1 lakh emails to TRAI over the issue through the website savetheinternet.in. The emails have been sent in response to the regulator’s call for public consultation. The scheduled government deadline for sending in feedback will lapse in a week.
The idea of net neutrality or free and equal Internet to all has garnered wide attention from across the globe.
While countries like the US, Chile, Netherlands and Brazil have already adopted Net Neutrality that doesn’t allow discrimination of Internet content or charge users differently based on the content, site, or platform they consume, back home TRAI has also asked for mass feedback to help formulate regulations for consuming the Internet.
Though consumers appear to be majorly in favour of net neutrality, telecom companies are up in arms against the concept owing to the notion that bringing equality of Internet would cut down on their prospective revenue from the OTT services that are offered through their network, including apps such as WhatsApp, Flipkart, Skype, etc.
Net neutrality means when a service provider sells you data they don’t get to choose how the data is used. The idea is that the Internet Service Provider, from whom you buy your internet pack, should not under any circumstance be able to control how exactly you use it. It is up to the consumer, how they wish to spend the data that they have bought from the Internet Service Provider.
No laws in India governing net neutrality
According to Wikipedia, as of 2015, India has no laws governing net neutrality, which would promise all the internet users to be treated equally on the internet, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
There have already been a few violations of net neutrality in India by some service providers, says Wikipedia.
The debated on network neutrality in India started after Airtel, a mobile telephony service provider in India, announced in December 2014 to charge additional rates for making voice calls (VoIP) from its network using apps like WhatsApp, Skype, etc.
In March 2015, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released a formal consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services, seeking comments from the public. The consultation paper was criticised for being one sided and having confusing statements. It received condemnation from various politicians and Indian netizens.
By 13 April, about 100,000 emails had been sent to TRAI demanding net neutrality.
Courtesy : Yahoo