The Department of telecommunication (DoT) has finally agreed to the new open and fair net neutrality rules for India. The move forbids Internet Service Providers from blocking, discriminating or interfering, slowing down or giving partiality to any data/services/apps with some exceptions. The new set of rules is in accordance with the inputs given by TRAI and will come in effect almost immediately.

This has been seen as a very progressive policy in comparison to Federal Communications Commission (FCC), US allowing stripped-down internet access. Such policies allows influential organizations like AT&T and Verizon  an unfair advantage over local startups. Nikhil Pahwa, co-founder of India’s Save the Internet campaign said “Unlike the US, where the FCC has gone back and is essentially opposing net neutrality, India has now the strongest net neutrality regulations in the world,” he added.

‘Specialized Services’ and ‘Critical IoT services’ exmepted

A digital graphic with the words IoT | Aspioneer
Critical services are to be exempted under TRAI’s rules | Aspioneer

As recommended by TRAI, services such as remote surgery, autonomous vehicles, internet calling, online television and enterprise-wired networks created through leased lines are exempted from the net neutrality regulations. Services that fall in any of the categories like ‘Specialized Services’ or ‘Critical IoT‘ whom TRAI boss R.S Sharma describes as “certain services were quality of service is essential” are also exempted. The new rules allow these providers to ignore net neutrality in case of emergencies, security threats or to manage high traffic across the network.

As the Wire reports, “The Telecom Commission today approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI. Now the licence agreements (with service providers) will be immediately amended and will be subject to principles of net neutrality,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundarajan told reporters. However, any violation by Internet service providers or telecom operators could lead to getting their operators license canceled.

While the move has been supported by the Cellular Operation Association of India (COAI), it has expressed some concerns over traffic prioritisation and 5G innovation.

“Where the net neutrality recommendations are concerned, we have already expressed our support on issues pertaining to non-discriminatory use of the Internet, including no blocking, no throttling and adoption of same service-same rules. That said, we reiterate our earlier position that a light touch regulatory approach should be adopted so that innovation such as 5G-enabled applications are not hampered by the Net Neutrality rules,” Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI, said in a statement “Now that the commission has approved the recommendations, which are before the Cabinet for approval, we hope that the Cabinet will consider the concerns raised by the industry so that the Net Neutrality rules that are adopted in India benefit the consumers, incentivise innovation and adoption of new technologies, and enable the seamless spread of state of the art networks and service,” he finished.

At Aspioneer, we believe net neutrality will make the internet great with easy, unrestricted access and stocked with freely available information, regardless of the content provider. This will help both new as well as established companies by creating a fair and balanced market place. It will give mutual freedom to every individual, to choose from complete unrestricted and non-discriminatory services rather than the restricted net version provided by internet service providers. It will encourage both competition and innovation thus help in overall economic growth nationwide.

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