More reports on: Telecom

Trai backs net neutrality, says ISPs should not discriminate on content

28 November 2017

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended changes in licensing policy to ensure that access to internet is not restricted on the basis of content.

In its recommendations on net neutrality released today, Trai said the basic principle that should be followed is that internet services should be non-discriminatory - that service providers should not enter into agreements that discriminate on content.

Speaking at an open house to discuss in-flight connectivity on Monday, Trai chairman RS Sharma assured that the regulator's suggestion would not be influenced by the developments in the US, where the administration has backtracked on the net neutrality issue.

In the US, the telecom regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken back the 2015 net neutrality rules.

The licensing terms should be amplified to provide explicit restrictions on any sort of discrimination in internet access based on the content being accessed, the protocol being used or the user equipment being deployed, an official release said. 

Trai in its recommendations has defined content as including "all content, applications, services and any other data, including its end-point information that can be accessed or transmitted over the internet".

The regulatory body pointed out that there should be no intrusion of equal access to internet to everyone, based on just the content.

Trai said the licensing terms should also lists out the nature of bias, the service provider might be planning on in order to provide content.

In its recommendations Trai also said that telecom companies must declare their traffic management activities.

In India, a debate has been brewing since 2015 over discriminatory services such as Facebook's, Free Basics and Airtel Zero, all of which net neutrality supporters say should not be allowed to continue in India.

Campaigners from across the country collected millions of signatures to pledge their support for net neutrality. IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also pledged his support for a non-discriminatory internet.

Last week, while speaking at the Global Conference on Cybersecurity, Prasad reiterated his view, saying, access to the internet was "non-negotiable", and that no single body will have any monopoly over internet services.

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