Indian gov't approves net neutrality to keep internet fair

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

In a bid to ensure that netizens continue to have free and fair access to the internet, the government recently approved the principles of net neutrality in India.

Net neutrality means service providers must treat all traffic equally, and not charge differently based on content. This means that telecom operators in India can not give preferential treatment to any user, content, site, platform, or application.

Licence agreements with service providers will be immediately amended and will be subject to principles of net neutrality, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters on Wednesday after the Telecom Commission approved the policy.

Department of Telecommunications has approved the implementation of "net neutrality" recommendations made by TRAI.

Meanwhile, in other net neutrality news, the latest probable addition to the US Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a 2017 decision that "net neutrality is unlawful and must be vacated".

Popular tech website Gizmodo put it most succinctly - "Indian net neutrality activists argued that Free Basics was a way for Facebook to shape internet access".


India is expected to have 500 million internet users by June.

On the new telecom policy, she said, "Key aspects and enabling provisions to reduce the levies have been mentioned in the policy and these would have to be translated into specific proposals, which would be done once the cabinet approves it". Mission critical applications or services like remote surgery and autonomous cars has been kept out of the new rule.

The TC has also approved avoidance of double tax on virtual network operators who provide retail services of telecom operators.

Even Facebook's Internet.org plan of providing free services was banned in 2016 since it was indirectly promoting zero rating which could have acted as an advantage over local companies. An intense debate had preceded the Trai decision, with some favouring an open internet policy and some others opposing it.

To ensure that this investment comes into the telecom sector, the government will bring down regulatory compliances for ease of doing business, Sundararajan said, adding that they will make the market fundamentally attractive to investors. After a campaign The Logical Indian ran on social media that lasted for months, 70 Lakh responses were sent to TRAI in support of Net Neutrality. This "multi-provider, inter-operable, collaborative model increases the overall innovation in the system, dismantles monopolies and encourages passing of benefits to end user", the telecom regulator has said.

Trai had, however, allowed fast lanes for specialised services that the DoT would define, and had permitted telcos to use traffic management practices to maintain quality of service.

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