TRAI recommends forming multi-stakeholder body to assist DoT in monitoring net neutrality rules

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September 22, 2020 10:14 PM

The role of the multi-stakeholder body would be to provide advice and support to DoT in monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality principles, TRAI said.

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Sector regulator TRAI on Tuesday suggested that the Telecom Department should establish a multi-stakeholder body to ensure that internet providers adhere to the provisions of net neutrality, as it spelt out the broad contours of the proposed panel.

The role of the multi-stakeholder body would be to provide advice and support to Department of Telecom (DoT) in monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality principles, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said.

Releasing its detailed recommendations on ‘Traffic management practices and multi-stakeholder body for net neutrality’, the two aspects enshrined in the net neutrality principles, TRAI said the proposed panel should comprise all telecom service providers and internet providers and other stakeholders such as content providers, researcher, academic and technical community, civil society organisations, consumers, and the government.

“The DoT may establish a multi-stakeholder body (MSB) to ensure that Internet Access Providers adhere to the provisions of net neutrality in their license,” TRAI said in its recommendations.

The proposed body would be responsible for providing support to DoT in creating and maintaining repository of traffic management practices, investigate complaints regarding violation of net neutrality, submitting reports based on monitoring of internet services, probe of incidents, and review of reports submitted by its members.

It can also help in recommending suitable technical standards and methodologies on matters pertaining to best practices to be adopted for internet traffic management.

“The functions of the MSB would be to perform the tasks of compilation and harmonisation of traffic management practices across all internet access service providers, maintain and publish repository of traffic management practices…,” TRAI said in a statement.

It would also help prepare the technical standards and define methodologies in matters pertaining to net neutrality.

TRAI suggested that the MSB could be set up by DoT as a non-profit entity. Further, it may start by registering all licensed service providers as mandatory members, and then invite other stakeholders to become its members.

The body may further modify or define its structure and procedures with the approval of the Telecom Department, the regulator said.

TRAI’s recommendations also talk of process for creation of a repository of reasonable and necessary traffic management practices that internet players can adopt for managing traffic on their networks.

“The DoT may define the process for creation and maintenance of a repository of reasonable TMPs (Traffic Management Practices),” it said.

This work shall be managed with the help of the MSB.

“The DoT may frame a policy for internet access service providers to inform affected users regarding the impact of applied traffic management practices,” TRAI said, adding that players should be required to maintain a “complete and accurate record” of instances of application of traffic management rules for future reference.

The net neutrality principles prohibit service providers from discriminating against internet content and services by blocking, throttling or according preferential higher speeds.

Simply put, this means that entire internet traffic should be available to everyone on equal terms without general discrimination.

Earlier, the government had accepted TRAI’s recommendations on net neutrality with slight modifications to the regulator’s suggestion, and had then approached it for additional views on nuances like traffic management practices (TMPs) and multi-stakeholder body.

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