Net neutrality directions to benefit RJio, Bharti

TRAI backs free open internet says all content should be available to all consumers

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has published its recommendations for upholding net neutrality guidelines (PDF) across the country today, and boy, do they look good - for consumers, that is.

If adopted by the Modi government, Internet service providers would not be able to engage in practices such as "blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content". "It would also not restrict adoption of reasonable traffic management practices by the service provider", Trai added.

When asked to comment on the US Federal Communications Commission proposal to roll back net neutrality rules of 2015, Sharma said Trai has kept the Indian context in mind while framing its recommendations. Based on the responses received, open house discussions were held in three cities.

The regulator also suggested changing licence terms of players to explicitly restrict any form of discrimination in internet access based on content. The recommendations are clearly aimed at stopping exploitative attempts by telecom operators to create fast or slow lanes for specific services - video apps, messengers and other "over-the-top" services - as it impedes on the basic idea of keeping the net free and fair for all its users.

TRAI backs free open internet says all content should be available to all consumers

The recommendations follow a consultation process that lasted for over a year, after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sought TRAI's views on the issue in March 2016, with an aim to "finalise a viewpoint" on net neutrality.

However, this is not the first time that TRAI has ruled in favour of upholding the ideals of a free and open internet.

India's telecom regulator has backed net neutrality with a free and open internet, while allowing carriers or internet service providers to use some traffic management practices (TMPs) as long as they're transparent and their impact on users is declared. Internet firms lauded Trai's recommendations, while telecom operators said that the regulator has applied a "narrow definition" to the topic.

This is at odds with the USA regulator, which seems to be moving towards dismantling rules on net neutrality. "The implementation of these regulations by the government of India would include formally issuing new executive orders to amend the telecom license conditions of service providers who have been licensed to operate in India by the government".

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