Internet to remain free and fair in India


India accepting the net neutrality rules is a sign of victory for open Internet movement as in the United States, the Net Neutrality rules expired last month after the US Federal Communications Commission voting against the rules in November 2017.

"Where the net neutrality recommendations are concerned, we have already expressed our support on issues pertaining to the non-discriminatory use of the Internet, including no blocking, no throttling and adoption of same service-same rules".

The Telecom Commission on Wednesday approved net neutrality rules which bar service providers from discriminating against Internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access. "The TC today [Wednesday] approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI", Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said after the meeting.

The draft Telecom policy, however, keeps certain Internet of Things services such as autonomous vehicles and digital healthcare outside the ambit of these rules. The government will appoint a committee to examine possible exceptions for "critical services" which will be defined keeping in mind the basic tenets of net neutrality. Earlier in 2016, the fight for net neutrality in India was a hot topic when TRAI floated a consultation paper on the topic. A multi-stakeholder body for monitoring and investigation of violations will also be set up as suggested by Trai.

As for the "non-level playing field" argument, these private telecom companies in question are huge multinationals, and comparing them to the PDO aggregators - who would retail internet to a thousand or more PDOs - is not valid to begin with, but more on that in a bit.

Pahwa was at the forefront of India's first battle to preserve net neutrality in 2015, when Facebook's plan to provide free internet to hundreds of millions of Indians came under vast public pressure.

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The US, the world's biggest internet economy, is yet to take a clear stand on the matter. This policy aims at promoting investments, ease of doing business and emerging technologies such as 5G. Net neutrality rules prevent such a scenario by requiring ISPs to connect users to all lawful content on the internet equally, without giving preferential treatment to certain sites or services. Zero-rated platforms are services which offer free, but limited access to the internet through a few websites or services.

Indias' Minister of the Department of Telecommunications, Shri Manoj Sinha.

Opponents of net neutrality claim that regulation is unnecessary as broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance.

The Senate is meeting to revive net neutrality, but chances are Trump Republicans will back the FCC and net neutrality will die.

Sundararajan also told the publication that internet traffic management by mobile companies will be monitored under the new regime.