TRAI Favors Net Neutrality, Suggests Guidelines In Favor Of It
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday barred telecom service providers from charging differential rates for data services. This move successfully bars Facebook’s Basic Right. The suggestions they have made are:
- No service provider can offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content.
- No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged by the service provider for the purpose of evading the prohibition in this regulation.
- Reduced tariff for accessing or providing emergency services, or at times of public emergency has been permitted.
- Financial disincentives for contravention of the regulation have also been specified
- TRAI may review these regulations after a period of two years.
“No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content,” the TRAI ruled. It said that the prohibition was necessary to make Internet non-discriminatory.
They have also planned to levy a fine of Rs. 50,000 per day on service providers for not complying with the set rules. The fine can also go up to Rs. 50 lakhs. Although, they have made provisions for emergency situations.
“We had issued a consultation paper just about 60 days ago on differential pricing. We deliberated on the issue for quite some time. Anything on Internet cannot be differently priced. This is the broad point that we have highlighted in the regulation,” TRAI Chairman R.S. Sharma told reporters at a conference.
Facebook faces the heat
Facebook partnered with Reliance to promote Free Basics and was at loggerheads with the Telecom Authority of India. With this ruling, their intentions have been stopped. Airtel too came up with Airtel Zero which would segregate the internet.
The TRAI made sure that the tariff cannot vary on the basis of content, website, apps etc. A consumer cannot be charged differently for searching different sites or watching videos. They hope that it will invite more people on the internet.
While Net Neutrality activists cheered the move, NASSCOM and other telecom giants said that these recommendations would impact Narendra Modi’s Digital India movement.
A quick recap of the fight for Net Neutrality
In early 2015, TRAI notified the public of twenty questions they had to answer about what the policies for the use of the Internet should look like. Along with this, the public was also asked to send emails in support of net neutrality.
After a campaign The Logical Indian did on social media that lasted for over a year, 70 Lakh responses were sent to TRAI in support of Net Neutrality and finally, TRAI had to bow down.
On 8th February 2016, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued the ‘Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016’ that upheld net neutrality.
The Logical Indian welcomes the recommendations made by TRAI. Internet should not be a place for segregation or discrimination and hence, it should be available to all.
Also read, What is Net Neutrality?