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Nov 28, 2017 08:17 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

'Internet is an open platform': Trai upholds principle of net neutrality

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

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In a major move upholding the principles of net neutrality, telecom regulator TRAI has issued recommendations on the contentious issue. 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.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday also recommended an amendment to licence agreement with regard to internet services providers (ISPs), among other recommendations for the much-awaited net neutrality debate.

Upholding the basic principle that internet is an open platform and telecom pipe should not discriminate the access, the regulator has put forth a list of recommendations which includes services that will be exempted from this amendment.

“We feel that internet services should be non-discriminatory and hence, content delivery has been left out of the recommendations. TRAI is in favour of equal access to content,” TRAI chairman RS Sharma told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

The TRAI also recommended an industry-level body including all the stakeholders such as telecom service providers, NGOs, consumer representatives and others for its monitoring and enforcement.

Also Read: Ahead of TRAI's net neutrality recommendations, here's a lowdown on what it means

Sharma added that specialised services like an autonomous car, remote services, one-to-one specialised services will be kept out of these provinces, however, they should not be used to substitute internet.

"The discriminatory treatment in the context of treatment of content would include any form of discrimination, restriction or interference in the treatment of content including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content," TRAI said.

Exceptions to these recommendations include services that will not constitute the violation of net, reasonable traffic management practice, security concerns, measures of an international treaty among others.

These reasonable traffic management practices should be transparent and transient. Thus, whenever these exceptions are prescribed, a disclosure agreement should be made available.

In January, a consultation paper on the subject was floated focusing majorly on network speed so that telecom operators do not use it to give preference or prevent access to any website or service like voice calls, which requires decent net speed.

Supporters of Net neutrality back the principle that the entire Internet traffic should be available to everyone on equal terms without any discrimination based on business considerations of service providers.

In February last year, Trai addressed a part of Net neutrality which was under its jurisdiction. It barred platforms like Facebook's Internet.Org and Airtel Zero which allowed free access to select websites to check 'gate-keeping' in cyberspace.
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