TRAI Weighs in Favour of Net Neutrality, Proposes License Amendments

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This recommendation would restrict any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content because of telecom regulators entering into partnerships with third party platforms like Flipkart, Amazon or Netflix.

The telecom regulator on Tuesday upheld the basic principles of net neutrality, and prohibited internet service providers from making any discrimination in internet access.

To monitor and investigate whether service providers are adhering to the rules, the regulator also suggested that a multi-stakeholder body be set up, led by industry, and comprising members representing different telecom and Internet service providers, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.

These recommendations have been arrived at based on the pre-consultation paper issued in May 2016 to identify key issues and a detailed consultation paper in January 2017 which focussed on requirements, design, scope and implementation of net neutrality framework in India.

However, this is not the first time that TRAI has ruled in favour of upholding the ideals of a free and open internet.

The new regulations go a step further and recommend prohibiting any service provider from throttling data speeds.

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

The recommendations also call for keeping Internet of Things (IoT) within the purview of non-discriminatory restriction, with the exception of critical services. CDNs enable telecom deliver content within their network without going through the public internet in order to create a content ecosystem to drive user traction. This means that cellular service providers who have their own content platform and are offering these services on their own network (content delivery networks) can charge differential pricing.

India's telecom regulator has backed net neutrality with a free and open internet, while allowing carriers or internet service providers to use some traffic management practices (TMPs) as long as they're transparent and their impact on users is declared.

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

"The DoT is already well positioned to investigate any violation of licence conditions and it already has all the necessary enforcement mechanisms in place".

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