TRAI backs Net neutrality

Trai To Issue Suggestions On Net Neutrality Today

Last week, U.S. federal communications commission chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by Donald Trump in January, unveiled plans to rescind so-called net neutrality rules championed by former President Barack Obama that treated internet service providers like public utilities.

Recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Net neutrality are broadly in line with its February 2016 regulation prohibiting discriminatory tariffs for data services. Existing rules in the U.S. bar internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to content or charging consumers more for a certain type of content.

On numerous occasions in the recommendations, Trai has quoted the 2015 USA order that supported net neutrality.

He said that the right to access to the internet was "non-negotiable", and that no single body will have any monopoly over internet services. In the first week of September, it was reported that TRAI's recommendations on net neutrality would be out in two months.

Lauding the involvement of content providers, service providers, access providers, research, and academia to monitor violations and make recommendations to the authority on regulations and standards, Nasscom said such a uniform approach would facilitate fair, alert and effective implementation of Net Neutrality.

Using the analogy of a toll road to explain net neutrality, Trai chairman RS Sharma tells Pranav Mukul why it is important for the country to adopt a neutral internet.

"There are some exceptions which have been allowed, but that is for services that don't mirror what is on the Internet, or are critical services which need to be specified by the government", Pahwa observed. Essentially, what we are saying is if telecom service providers have charged for data, then they should just do data relaying.

Under the recommended rules, service providers will not be able to enter into any kind of arrangement or contract that can have the effect of discrimination based on content, sender, receiver, protocols or even equipment.

TRAI recommends that the license terms of the ISPs should be modified to include these terms as part of the conditions under which they are allowed to offer Internet services.

Supporters of Net neutrality back the principle that the entire Internet traffic should be available to everyone on equal terms without any discrimination based on business considerations of service providers. Services which are optimised for specific content, protocols or user equipment, and where the optimization is necessary to meet specific quality of service requirements shall not come under the principles of discriminatory. Backers of net neutrality have demanded against having any traffic management practices, except in cases of emergencies, such as natural disasters.

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