TRAI Weighs in Favour of Net Neutrality, Proposes License Amendments

Net neutrality requires telecom firms to treat all internet traffic equally without regard for the type origin or destination of the content or the means of its transmission

Net neutrality requires telecom firms to treat all internet traffic equally without regard for the type origin or destination of the content or the means of its transmission

According to the telecom ministry, the new guidelines will be applicable to all Internet services and some "specialised services" as well.

The government had originally asked the TRAI to submit recommendations on net neutrality in March 2016, in order to finalise its official policy on the controversial issue.

He said that the right to access to the internet was "non-negotiable", and that no single body will have any monopoly over internet services.

On 27 March, 2015, TRAI had issued a consultation paper titled 'Regulatory Framework for Over-The-Top Service.' Apart from issues relating to Over-The-Top (OTT) service, this consultation paper also touched upon issues related to net neutrality.

Even as TRAI's recommendations are being hailed by Net Neutrality supporters, it is worth noting that these are still recommendations and that the implementation still holds the key for a full-fledged rollout. The authority, however, recommends that "CDNs should not be included within the scope of any restrictions on non-discriminatory treatment, which are designed specifically to cover the providers of Internet Access Services".

In America, the main regulator, the Federal Communications Commission or FCC, says it plans to repeal landmark 2015 rules that banned Internet providers from slowing down access to or charging more for some content.

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TRAI, in its 55-page recommendation, said that the terms of various license agreements governing the provision of Internet services in India be amended.

"There are some exceptions which have been allowed, but that is for services that don't mirror what is on the Internet, or are critical services which need to be specified by the government", Pahwa observed. Licensing terms must also detail the list of bias the operator may have in terms of offering content, the regulatory authority adds. Today, it's recommended that all ISPs should adhere to the principle of non-discriminatory treatment of content. Essentially, what we are saying is if telecom service providers have charged for data, then they should just do data relaying.

"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, ender or receiver, protocols or user equipment", TRAI made it clear to service providers in the recommendations.

Net neutrality is the principle that means all Internet service providers should allow access to all content without favouring any particular service or website.

TRAI said the basic principle followed while issuing the suggestions that internet services should be non discriminatory.

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