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India goes for strong net neutrality rules

Joint IIC - Italian Chapter and Agcom workshop

Eight months after India’s telecoms regulator came out swinging heavily in favour of the principle of net neutrality, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has finally agreed to adopt the same, reports the Wire. The recommendations proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in November 2017 would prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from engaging in “any form of discrimination or interference” in the treatment of online content. ISPs will also not be able to engage in practices such as “blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content”. “The Telecom Commission approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI. Now the licence agreements (with service providers) will be immediately amended and will be subject to principles of net neutrality,” telecoms secretary Aruna Sundarajan said, while noting that some critical services would be kept out of its purview. These exceptions have drawn some criticism. “When the regulator passed its recommendations last year, it carved out two broad categories of services that would be exempt from the net neutrality rules. The first are ‘critical IoT services’ and the second are what TRAI head RS Sharma calls ‘specialised services’. In the past, Sharma has emphasised that there are certain services were quality of service is essential, which should allow them to be exempt from net neutrality regulation. His favourite example is comparing these services to that of an ambulance, which is allowed to bypass traffic rules.” Other examples of exempted services include those involved with remote surgery, autonomous vehicles and enterprise-wired networks created through leased lines. The Cellular Operation Association of India (COAI) expressed concerns about traffic prioritisation and 5G innovation. “Where the net neutrality recommendations are concerned, we have already expressed our support on issues pertaining to non-discriminatory use of the Internet, including no blocking, no throttling and adoption of same service-same rules. That said, we reiterate our earlier position that a light touch regulatory approach should be adopted so that innovation is not hampered by the net neutrality rules,” Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI, said in a statement. In particular, COAI believes that industry practices with regard to traffic prioritisation should be reviewed to help “foster 5G-enabled applications”. The DoT’s Telecom Commission also formally approved the new national telecoms policy. Called the National Digital Communications Policy, it aims at creating new jobs and getting investments of more than $100 billion into India by 2022. Read more

  • Monday, 23 July 2018

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