Telecom regulator backs net neutrality


To monitor and investigate whether service providers are adhering to the rules, the regulator also suggested that a multi-stakeholder body be set up, led by industry, and comprising members representing different telecom and Internet service providers, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.

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

"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.

"Internet should be kept open and free and not cannibalised".

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. Internet access services should be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content. It has clarified specialised services are not allowed as a replacement for Internet Access Services and the provision of the "specialised services is not detrimental to the availability and overall quality of Internet Access Service".

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"Networks should not prefer one content over other.should not block or offer fast lane (to certain content)", he said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has published its recommendations for upholding net neutrality guidelines (PDF) across the country today, and boy, do they look good - for consumers, that is. With TRAI playing its part, it's up to the ministry of communications and information technology to now incorporate the recommendations in legislation.

The latest recommendations go one step further.

While these recommendations (in particular the license amendments) will only come into force if the Department of Telecommunications decides to implement them, TRAI quietly notes that pending consideration, it may regulate the "manner in which the current licensing requirement of unrestricted access to all content on the Internet is implemented and enforced".

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