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India’s TRAI supports net neutrality in latest recommendations

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out in strong support of net neutrality in a series of recommendations following a long process of consultation on the issue, reports The Hindu. “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 protocols being used or the user equipment being deployed,” TRAI said in the recommendations. The content mentioned includes all content, applications, services and any other data that can be accessed or transmitted over the internet. Warning against any “discriminatory treatment” including blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds to any content, TRAI stated: “The scope of the proposed principles on non-discriminatory treatment apply specifically to ‘internet access services’, which are generally available to the public.” In a clear message to service providers, one of the recommendations reads: “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.” In 2016, TRAI had barred telecoms providers from charging differential rates for data services in its Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, effectively blocking such attempts by Facebook and Airtel. To monitor violations, TRAI has recommended setting up a multistakeholder body which would be responsible for developing technical standards for monitoring and enforcement of the principles. “There were mixed reactions to the recommendations. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) observed that the recommendations were ‘principally’ in agreement with the industry submissions regarding the narrow issue of net neutrality but were disappointed that the authority did not adopt the industry recommendation to have a wider approach.” “A committee to review and decide on network management violations is unnecessarily bureaucratic, and not in keeping with light touch regulation or the ease of doing business,” COAI stated. In contrast, the Internet Association of India (IAMAI) called the recommendations “progressive and in line with the debates” in the industry and user groups. TeleGeography also notes: “The recommendations do allow for ISPs to offer so-called ‘specialised services’ which are optimised for specific content, protocols or user equipment, where optimisation is necessary to meet quality of service requirements. Crucially, however, the watchdog made it clear that specialised services may be offered by a provider only if they are not usable or offered as a replacement for internet access services, and under the condition that the provision of specialised services is not detrimental to the availability or quality of internet access services.” Read more and here and TRAI documents at

  • Monday, 18 December 2017

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