Net neutrality: Trai recommendations to be unveiled by October after 3rd open house over

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Published: August 31, 2017 5:05:24 AM

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will come out with its recommendation on the contentious issue of Net neutrality by October.“This is the third in the series of discussions which we have had on net neutrality.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Trai, Net NeutralityThe Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will come out with its recommendation on the contentious issue of Net neutrality by October.“This is the third in the series of discussions which we have had on net neutrality.(Image: IE)

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will come out with its recommendation on the contentious issue of Net neutrality by October.“This is the third in the series of discussions which we have had on net neutrality. All the stakeholders actively participated. We should be able to propose to the government our recommendations. I think it should not take more than a month,” Trai chairman RS Sharma told reporters after the open house discussion (OHD). The regulator on Wednesday held an OHD on net neutrality, which was the third and last in the series. The first two open houses took place in Bengaluru and Mumbai. Trai had started the consultation process last year.

The process is to establish principles of net neutrality. The authority wants to ensure that this process is guided by the Indian context and national interest, he added. On whether differential pricing will be addressed in this paper, Sharma said, “Well, as I said this is a comprehensive recommendation on net neutrality and we will see whether those regulations, which we had issued, need to be modified or not. It is a larger subset”. He further said that differential pricing regulation covered Net neutrality from a tariff perspective, but there are much larger issues in the current discussion like throttling, blocking etc, which need to be  addressed first.

The debate on net neutrality has witnessed a bitter war of words between the telecom operators and content providers. The open house on Wednesday too saw operators and internet content generators clashing over issues such as how data should be treated, throttling, blocking and disclosure. While telecom operators were of the view that there is a need to define content and internet as well as where does the content start and its end users, content creators and NGOs said that traffic management principles (TMP), especially throttling and blocking, is a major  issue and should be addressed in detail.

Another flash point in the debate was with operators stating that not just telecom service providers, but the devices and content also needs to be analysed and monitored as they too are controlling the internet, which was hotly contested by the content generators and the NGOs. Telcos also said that there is a need to discuss who is investing in the network infrastructure and that content providers should also share the responsibility. One telecom operator suggested that those content providers that consume more than 5% of a network’s bandwidth should pay for the infrastructure. On the issue of disclosure to users about TMPs, there was almost unanimity that it should be applicable to all the stakeholders in the eco-system.

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