Telecom regulator backs net neutrality

Telecom regulator backs net neutrality

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

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (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 net neutrality came at a time when a debate is raging over US Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai's recent proposal to dismantle the 2015 rules, which require ISPs (internet service providers) to treat all content travelling through their pipes equally.

The regulator's recommendations are 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 videos.

In February 2016, the Trai had ruled in favour of net neutrality by barring 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 recommendations.

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.

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