TRAI backs net neutrality

TRAI backs net neutrality

The telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday upheld the basic principles of net neutrality and prohibited internet service providers from making any discrimination in internet access.  

The Trai, in its much awaited recommendations, said "internet access services should be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content."

"This principle would apply to any discriminatory treatment based on the sender or receiver, the network protocols, or the user equipment, but not to specialised services or other exclusions. It would also not restrict adoption of reasonable traffic management practices by the service provider," said the recommendations.

The Trai's support for the net neutrality came at a time debate is going on following US Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai's recent proposal to dismantle the 2015 rules that require ISPs (internet service providers) to treat all content travelling through their pipes equally.

The regulator's recommendations is paving the way to end all sorts of discriminatory practices that telecom operators may exercise to differentiate among services and content over the internet such as reducing its speed for accessing online video.

In 2016, February, the Trai had ruled in favour of net neutrality by barring the internet service providers from offering discriminatory tariffs for data.

The latest recommendations go one step further. Now, the Department of Telecom has to take a call on whether to accept or reject the recommendation.

Change licence terms

The regulator also suggested changing licence terms of players to explicitly restrict any form of discrimination in Internet access based on content.

However, the regulator made a provision to exempt "specialised services" from its principles of discriminatory treatment, clarifying that relaxation would only be applicable to those services where optimising is necessary in order to meet specific quality of service requirements.

It has said that Internet of Things, with exception to critical IoT, would have to adhere to the restrictions on non discriminatory treatment.

The regulator has recommended that DoT may establish monitoring body comprising telecom operators, ISPs, content providers, civil society organisations and consumer representatives to monitor traffic management practices and enforcement of principles on non-discriminatory treatment.

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