Trai's Net Neutrality recommendations: Key highlights

Posted November 30, 2017

After over one year of consultations and heated debate, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will issue its much-awaited recommendations on net neutrality.

The country has been tussling with the issue of regulating internet service providers' ability to throttle traffic and create fast lanes for specific sources of content; TRAI has previously sought comments from the public on how to shape its rules.

The content mentioned includes all content, applications, services and any other data, including its end-point information, that can be accessed or transmitted over the internet.

'The core principles of net neutrality, non-discriminatory treatment of all content, treating internet as an open platform, we've upheld them, ' said Trai chairman RS Sharma. Based on the responses received, open house discussions were held in three cities.

The regulator has recommended for DoT to set up a panel of telecom operators, ISPs, content providers, civil society organisations and consumer representatives to monitor and probe violations.

The move came after an extended campaign by internet activists against Facebook's free basics platform.

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.

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This is at odds with the United States regulator, which seems to be moving towards dismantling rules on net neutrality.

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

India's Net Neutrality advocates have lauded the regulators' recommendations.

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

Making an exception for specialized services, the regulator said such services could be provided as long as the service provider wasn't resorting to them as a replacement for "Internet Access Services' that are at the heart of net neutrality". The Union minister for communications and telecom secretary are required to indicate whether the government of India accepts the independent regulator's recommendations and to announce how they plan to implement them.

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

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