By NR Mohanty
The deadline set by a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for receiving open opinions/suggestions on a conference paper on Net Neutrality lapsed on 7 January. To be satisfactory to a Trai, it did not find consultant perspective on Net Neutrality as such, though ‘on a specific matter of differential routine for information services being charity by a operators’. Nevertheless this ‘specific matter’ is an constituent and critical partial of a Net Neutrality debate.
Unfortunately, a specific conference routine instituted by a Trai was hijacked by a Free Basics discuss involving Facebook. As per reports, by 7 Jan when a deadline expired, Trai had perceived roughly 24 lakh responses out of that 13.5 lakh came by a template of ‘@supportfreebasics.in’ though particular emails and 5.44 lakh comments came along a same lines by ‘@facebookmail.com”.
The vital cube of a conflicting view, that countered a Free Basics proposition, came by another template ‘Save a Internet’. It captivated 4.84 lakh responses.
Trai chairman’s irritated criticism was:”It is like we have asked Question X and they have given answer to Question Y”. He went on to add: “Consultations by a Trai are not opinion polls; we are not seeking ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We are seeking since we consider it is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, since that helps us in formulating a guidelines.”
If it were an opinion poll, clearly ‘Free Basics’ would have won hands-down. Since it is not, it has to now be seen what routine Trai formulates in a days to come on a differential tariff issue.
Trai’s quandary is suggestive of a identical conditions that a Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a regulatory management in a US on telecommunications matters, faced final year.
Trai, in a conference paper, had mentioned some skeleton that amounted to differential tariffs supposing by Telecom Service Operators (TSPs). Some of them charity 0 or ignored tariff to certain content, websites, applications or platforms.
“The design of charity such schemes is claimed to be a enterprise of several service/content/platform providers to capacitate consumers , generally a poor, to entrance certain calm on a internet giveaway of charge.”
The paper goes on to contend that there is a flip side:
“On a one hand, it appears to make altogether internet entrance some-more affordable by shortening cost of certain forms of content. On a other hand, several disastrous effects competence ensue. Differential tariffs outcome in sequence of subscribers formed on a calm they wish to access. This might potentially go opposite a element of non-discriminatory tariff.”
The FCC in a US was held adult with a identical quandary final year as to either some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be authorised to offer a faster lane to send calm during a aloft cost. In May 2014, It deliberated on dual options: First, needing quick and delayed broadband lanes that amounted to compromising a element of Net Neutrality that emphasises a ‘free and open internet’. The second choice was to reclassify broadband services as telecommunication services (instead of ‘information services’ as it had been designated then) and nullify differential pricing; this would safety a element of Net Neutrality.
There was a exhilarated discuss in a US. ISPs strongly lobbied for a initial option. But over 100 internet companies — including Google, Microsoft, eBay and Facebook — sealed a minute propelling a FCC to go for a second option, as a initial choice would consecrate a ‘grave hazard to a internet’.
Four million Americans sent a petition to President Barack Obama propelling him to safety a element of Net Neutrality. In Nov 2014, President Obama done his position transparent clear: “When we was a claimant for this office, we done transparent my joining to a giveaway and open internet, and my commitments sojourn as clever as ever.”
As regards a deliberations of a FCC, a President said:” The FCC is an eccentric group and eventually a preference is theirs alone.”
Spelling out his possess view, Obama said:”I trust a FCC should emanate a new set of manners safeguarding net neutrality and ensuring that conjunction a wire association nor a phone association will be means to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what we could do or see online.”
Whether President Obama’s toll publicity of a Net Neutrality element shabby FCC to retreat a position taken in Apr 2014 to concede some ISPs like Comcast and Verizon to offer differential tariff is not known, though in Feb 2015, it voted in foster of a Net Neutrality element to keep a internet open and free.
The wilful impulse has now come for a Trai. Will it go a FCC approach and stop any offer to concede a element of Net Neutrality?
Will Narendra Modi, a country’s autarchic leader, make his position transparent a la Obama, in a hard-hitting summary to a Trai?
In any case, Trai is no FCC. It might be ‘indpendent’, though like many regulatory bodies in India, it is debasing to a government. India’s telecom apportion has already pronounced that a supervision would organisation adult a position after it perceived a recommendation of a Trai. Clearly, distinct a FCC, Trai can usually recommend; a decision-making management lies with a government.
The doubt is: Will a Indian supervision confirm to go a US approach and safety a element of Net Neutrality?
PS — An intetesting anomaly: Facebook was on a side of Net Neutrality activists in a US; it is in a banishment line of Net Neutrality activists in India.
To review since Free Basics isn’t all it’s burst out to be, check out FreeBasics: Nothing Free or Basic in this discount of Privacy and to review since Free Basics isn’t a demon it’s done out to be, check out Free Basics: Regulatory beliefs contra Ideology