As US rolls back Net Neutrality India reinforces it

29th November 2017
As US rolls back Net Neutrality India reinforces it
US and India formulate their Net Neutrality stance (Main word cloud image courtesy

New Delhi, November 29 2017: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its Recommendations on "Net Neutrality".  These are seen to uphold the principle of  unrestricted access to all Internet sites without bias -- the core principle on Net Neutrality.
They come in a week, when the US counterpart of TRAI -- the Federal Communications Commission ( FCC) under its  new head Ajit Pai is  in the process of rolling back  prevalant  Net Neutrality provisions and inaugurating an era of  Laisez faire as far as Internet  services in the US are concerned. 
In arriving at its  recommendations , TRAI first issued a pre-consultation paper on May 30, 20 16, aimed at identifying the key issues, and followed it up with a detailed consultation paper on January 4, 2017 that focused specifically on questions of requirements, design, scope and implementation of a Net Neutrality framework in India. In response to this, TRAI received 61 comments, 8 counter comments from a variety of stakeholders. This was followed by three open house discussions in Mumbai , Bangalore and Delhi.
The salient features of the recommendations are

  1. The licensing terms should be amplified to provide explicit restrictions on  any  sort  of discrimination in Internet access based on the content bei ng accessed , the protocols being used or the user equipment being deployed. Content would include all content, applications, services and any other data, including its end-point information , that can be accessed or transmitted  over the Internet
  2. The "discriminatory treatment" in the context of treatment of content would include  any form of discrimination, restriction or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing  down  or  granting  preferential  speeds  or treatment to any content.
  3. The service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called , with any person , natural or legal , that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment.
  4. The scope of the proposed principles on non-discriminatory treatment apply specifically to "Internet Access Services", which are generally available to the public.
  5. In order to remove any ambiguity , Internet Access Services have been defined.
  6. Specialised  services, i.e. services other than  Internet Access  Services, which  are optimised for specific content, protocol s or user equipment, and where the optimisation i s necessary in order to meet specific quality of service requrements shall be exem pted from the pri nciples of discriminatory  treatment.
  7. DoT may identify specialised services. However , specialised services may be offered by the service provider only if they are not usable (or offered) as a replacement for Internet Access Services; and the provision of such services is not detrimental to the availabiity and overall quality of Internet Access Services.
  8. Internet of Things (IoT), as a class of services, are not excluded from the scope of the restrictions on non-discri minatory treatment. However , critical loT services, which may be identified by DoT, and which satisfy the definition of special ised services, would be automaticallyy excluded.    FULL text of recommendations  here