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NEW DELHI: Internet access in India should remain nondiscriminatory and telecom companies and internet providers should place no restrictions in the delivery of content through practices such as throttling of speeds, blocking, paid prioritisation or preferential treatment, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said on Tuesday, making a strong case for backing net neutrality in the country.
Also, dissemination of futuristic technologies such as internet-ofthings (IoT) has been included in the non-discriminatory delivery regime. Trai, however, kept “specialised services or other exclusions” out of the net neutrality ambit.
Trai also allowed “reasonable traffic management practices” to telecom companies to give them space for managing the quality of services. Specialised services, say industry watchers, may include niche (not mass-market) and up-and-coming services such as tele-surgery and autonomous driving, though Trai did not make any specific mentions.
The regulator –which had issued a consultation paper on net neutrality in January and has since held several rounds of consultations with stakeholders — said a tighter vigil is required over the telcos and other content delivery companies to ensure compliance. It suggested the formation of a multi-stakeholder body to ensure that net-neutrality principles are adhered to and there are no violations of any kind.
Trai chairman R S Sharma told TOI, “The overarching goal for us has been that internet must remain an open platform, unhindered by any entity, so that users and customers have a choice to access content of their liking… Nobody owns the internet and thus it should be available to everyone. We seek openness and integrity of the internet.”
As it spelt out detailed recommendations which will now be taken up by the telecom ministry to formalise the government’s formal views on the subject, Trai said, “… increasingly, concerns have been raised globally as well as in India relating to the potential for discriminatory treatment of internet traffic by the entities that control access to the internet. These concerns regarding non-discriminatory access have become the centre of a global policy debate, often referred to as the debate on “network or net neutrality”.