It's worth noting how different India's stance on net neutrality is from that of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai. The move is likely to give service providers a say on what content consumers can access. Therefore, it is important that this platform be kept open and free and not cannibalized.
While the telecom department will have to take a call on the regulator's recommendations, TRAI has also reserved the right to regulate and enforce non-discriminatory access within its framework. Networks should not prefer one kind of content over another.
Indian telecom regulator-Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday favoured Net Neutrality principles and suggested that restrictions or preferential access to the internet should not be allowed.
The country has been tussling with the issue of regulating internet service providers' ability to throttle traffic and create fast lanes for specific sources of content; TRAI has previously sought comments from the public on how to shape its rules. "However, critical IoT services, which may be identified by DoT, and which specify the definition of specialised services, would be automatically excluded". CDNs are exempted from the scope of any restrictions, TRAI added. The recommendations are completely consistent with the basic construct of NASSCOM recommendations calling for unrestrained and unimpeded access to all lawful content and services subject to national regulations related to security and privacy, and preventing service providers leveraging their exclusive control over access infrastructure to speed up, slow down or selectively enable or prevent access to certain content. Services which are optimised for specific content, protocols or user equipment, and where the optimization is necessary to meet specific quality of service requirements shall not come under the principles of discriminatory. It further applies to Internet of Things (IoT) as a class of services, with the exception of IoT services as specialised services, that may be specified by the TRAI.
The two major recommendations are: 1) Internet service providers must not engage in discriminatory treatment of content, and 2) Licensee can't enter into an agreement that has any discriminatory content effect.
"While this provides a considerable relief to providers of CDN services, it puts TSPs in a precarious position, if this recommendation is accepted by DoT", Walia said.
These recommendations make Net Neutrality - the principle that says that all bits on the internet should be treated equally - rules in India far more ironclad than in the U.S., where the FCC moved last week to repeal rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing websites, or charging a premium for "fast lanes" for things like high-quality streaming.