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Trai suggests panel under DoT to regulate net neutrality

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) finalized its recommendations on net neutrality.

  • It suggested that the department of telecommunications (DoT) form a multi-stakeholder body(MSB) to ensure adherence to rules under the regime.
  • The role of the MSB (multi-stakeholder body) shall be to provide advice and support the DoT in monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality principles.
  • The committee will have all telecom and internet service providers and other stakeholders, such as content providers, researchers, and the academic and technical community, civil society organizations, consumers and the government.
  • The panel will probe complaints of net neutrality violation received from its members or the common people, or related references made to it by the DoT or Trai. It will also submit reports to the DoT, and a copy to Trai, based on monitoring of internet services, probes of incidents, and review of reports.
  • The panel will recommend suitable technical standards and methodologies on matters related to the best practices to be adopted for TMPs.
  • Internet access providers will submit, to both DoT and the panel, the list of practices that they use for managing their networks.
  • It also recommended that the DoT may define traffic management practices (TMPs) with the help of the multi-stakeholder panel.
  • The DoT may require internet access providers to maintain complete and accurate records of instances of application of traffic management practices for future reference.
  • For transparency, the Trai said that ISPs should only be allowed to use traffic management practices declared by them and recorded in the repository of such practices.

                    LEARNING FROM HOME/WITHOUT CLASSES/BASICS

Net neutrality has become a contentious issue across the world as social media giants and mobile and internet providers seek greater control on delivery of content and services  to customers. It is feared that handing out greater and unchecked control to them will lead to monopolies and situations of paid prioritisation, both of which will stifle the start-up culture and new innovations.

                                       NET NEUTRALITY: WHAT IS MEANS

Net neutrality is a principle that says Internet service providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally. That means companies should not block or slow down access to any website or content on the Web – for instance, to benefit their own services over those of competitors.
The concept that all data on the internet should be treated equally by corporations, such as internet service providers, and governments, regardless of content, user, platform, application or device.

                   Network neutrality requires all Internet service providers (ISPs) to provide the same level of data access and speed to all traffic, and that traffic to one service or website cannot be blocked or degraded.

                           ISPs are also not to create special arrangements with services or websites, in which companies providing them are given improved network access or speed.

                        For Example,   Airtel, in 2017 had  announced a new service called Airtel Zero where it will offer customers free access to certain apps and services, with cost of this data traffic being borne by the partner. For example, if Flipkart signs up as an Airtel Zero partner, you will not be charged for data you use while accessing Flipkart, and Airtel will bill Flipkart for that session.

                               While that may sound great on paper, experts say that in the long term it’s against consumer interests, because consumers are more likely to use free services. They say smaller companies, who cannot afford to subsidise consumer access to their websites and services, are likely to lose out, stifling innovation in the country, which means fewer options for consumers in the long run.

                                Of course Airtel is not alone in this, with Facebook’s Internet.org operating on a similar principle, and various other apps have tie-up with telcos in the past to offer consumers free access to their service

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