The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has floated a new pre-consultation paper on the issue of net neutrality. The paper seeks responses on clarity on what should be the core principles of net neutrality in the Indian context and what precautions should be taken with respect to the activities of Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) and content providers among other key issues. The final date for submitting comments on the pre-consultation paper is June 21, 2016. Also Read - Airtel 5G Mumbai trials show download speeds of 1.2Gbps, upload at 850MbpsAlso Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
In its pre-consultation paper, the telecom regulator defines as the principle that TSPs must treat all internet traffic on an equal basis, without regard to the type, origin, or destination of the content or the means of its transmission. It therefore implies that all points in a network should be able to seamlessly connect to all other points, without any discrimination by the TSP on aspects of speed, access or price. Also Read - TRAI's new SMS regulations will prevent spam, fraudulent messages: Here's how
Traffic Management vs Quality of Services
One of the important aspects that the TRAI touches upon is the issue of traffic management by telecom operators. It refers the traffic management as set of techniques that may be used by a TSP to plan and allocate available resources to attain optimum performance for diverse classes of users across a network. It then points out that telcos may use certain techniques such as blocking applications to deal with network congestion.
Growth of internet videos
The regulator also highlights that internet video traffic has grown exponentially over the years, and is expected to continue to growth even further. According to CISCO’s Visual Networking Index Forecast, internet video traffic (business and consumer, combined) is expected to contribute 74 percent of all internet traffic in India by 2019, up from 46 percent in 2014. Therefore the regulator finds it necessary to formulate policy to ensure telcos correct traffic management system that does not the hurt the consumer’s experience.
What s unreasonable
The TRAI describes traffic management techniques such as blocking of apps or any content, throttling speeds, preferential treatment of applications or even monitoring contents of data packets unless it is required by the law enforcement agencies or ensuring security of the network, as unreasonable interference with internet traffic by a telecom service provider.
What service providers have to do
According to the regulator, the service providers need to come up with advanced traffic management techniques to ensure of interests of consumers and business interests and that without compromising with net neutrality guidelines. The consultation paper also seeks service providers to keep improving infrastructure to deliver quality service.
Regularization of OTT services
The telecom regulator has also touched upon the issue of OTT services. Though it does not refer to demands of telcos to share revenues, but focuses on possible misuse of users data.
Besides security challenges at the national level, OTT communications and OTT media can also pose a threat to the privacy of individual users. While the open architecture of the Internet is responsible for the phenomenal growth of OTT services, it also causes the transfer of personal information on the Internet to be fraught with potential risks and scope for misuse, the regulator said in the paper.
The TRAI has called for a legal and regulatory framework for governing privacy of users of OTT services.
Net Neutrality war not over!
TRAI s latest pre-consultation paper clearly indicates that the net neutrality is a far more complicated subject and is far from having a government policy around it. It has already floated several consultation papers on the issue in last one year. The only major development that has happened is when the regulator released Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016.
The regulation essentially bars service providers from offering or charging discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content.” Heralded as a big victory for the net neutrality, the regulations culminated zero rating platforms such as the Airtel Zero and Facebook s Free Basics.
Right now it seems highly unlikely that the regulator will come out with a comprehensive framework on net neutrality anytime sooner.