More reports on: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

Telcos want uniform net neutrality norms for all players

07 July 2016

Telecom operators have demanded that all stakeholders such as websites, mobile applications and cellphone makers be brought under the ambit of any net neutrality regulation.

"We believe that the regulatory framework of net neutrality should not be limited to TSP (telecom service providers) only, but apply to all other stakeholders such as website, content or applications providers and handset manufacturers," industry bodies COAI and AUSPI said in their submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Trai has issued a pre-consultation paper on net neutrality to ascertain issues that should be considered while framing rules for the widely debated subject.

The Cellular Operators Association of India and the Association of Unified Service Providers in India in their joint submission said that internet is an eco-system in itself which encompasses different stakeholders such as access services provisioning entities (telecom operators and Internet services firms), content services provisioning entities, services enabling entities (device manufactures) and services subscription entities which are users.

"For the internet to remain neutral it is imperative that all the stakeholders should ensure that they on their part should not indulge in blocking, throttling and paid prioritisation of any content or stakeholder or users on a selective basis," the industry bodies said.

They said that any definition of net neutrality in the Indian context should consider the factors of 'affordability' and 'proliferation of the data network'.

The telecom operators' bodies said that net neutrality regulation has primacy of 'affordability' and 'proliferation of the data network' as its core philosophy and hence it should provide non-discriminatory internet access to every citizen and implement same service same rules for the service providers.

It said that the net neutrality rules should "assess and mitigate the potential revenue loss to the government owing to non-regulation of the content/application developers offering same services as licensed telecom operators".

The telecom bodies have submitted 14 points for consideration of Trai under net neutrality rules, which include user rights, right to create and access legal content, no blocking of any lawful content, no degradation of internet traffic based on the content, application, services and end user.

The telecom operators have demanded that over-the-top players like Skype, WhatsApp etc should be brought under the same security laws as they are required to comply with as "National security and privacy issues are of paramount importance, regardless of treatment of net neutrality".

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