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Net neutrality in India

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Net neutrality in India

As of 2014, India has no laws governing net neutrality. There are have been a few violations of net neutrality in India by some service providers. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is yet to form proper guidelines regarding net neutrality.[1]

History

In 2006, TRAI invited opinions regarding the regulation of net neutrality from various telecom industry bodies and stakeholders.[1] Specifically in December 2006, a consultation paper published by the TRAI noted even though the internet has been neutral since 1998 when private ISPs were allowed to begin operations, the situation may some change. The Internet Service Providers may discriminate against competing applications and content providers. This may effect services like internet telephony. The paper invited opinions from stakeholders on whether regulatory intervention was required or whether it should be left to market forces.[2]

In February 2012, at the World Mobile Congress held in Barcelona, the CEO of Bharti Airtel, Sunil Bharti Mittal suggested that services like Youtube should pay an interconnect charge to network operators, saying that if telecom operators are building highways for data then there should be a tax on the highway.[3] In July 2012, Bharti Airtel's Director of Network Services, Jagbir Singh suggested that large internet companies like Facebook and Google should share revenues with telecom companies. According to him, internet companies were making big profits from small investments, whereas the telecom companies were actually investing in building networks. He also suggested that the telecom regulator should establish interconnection charges for data services, similar to that applied for voice calls.[4] In August 2012, The Hindu reported that according to data from M-Lab, You Broadband, Airtel, and BSNL were throttling BitTorrent traffic.[5]

In February 2013, Killi Kruparani, Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, said that the government will look into the legality of VoIP services. The Chief General Manager of the state-run BSNL, V. Srinivasan also said that services like Skype are illegal.[6] In June 2013, Bharti Airtel began offering certain Google services for free to its cellular broadband users, with a limit of 1GB on the free data.[7][8]

In February 2014, Gopal Vittal, CEO of Airtel India operations, said that companies offering free messaging apps like Skype, Line and Whatsapp should be regulated similar to telecom operators.[9] In August 2014, TRAI rejected a proposal from telecom companies to make messaging app firms to share part of their revenue with the carriers or the government.[10] In October 2014, Vodafone India Marten Pieters CEO suggested that companies like Facebook and Whatsapp should be taxed to ensure a level playing field with telecom operators.[11]

Legal aspects

There are no laws enforcing net neutrality in India. Although, the TRAI guidelines for the Unified Access Service license contains promotes net neutrality, it does not enforce it. The Information Technology Act 2000 also does not prohibit companies from throttling their service in accordance to their business interests.[12]

In India, telecom operators and ISPs offering VoIP services have to pay a part of their revenues to the government.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "What is net neutrality and why it is important".  
  2. ^ "Consultation Paper on Review of Internet Service".  
  3. ^ "Mobile operators: Stop picking on us, or else".  
  4. ^ "Google, Facebook should share revenue with us: Airtel".  
  5. ^ "ISPs slam brakes on BitTorrent speeds".  
  6. ^ a b "As debate over Net telephony rages, Govt to re-examine services offered by Skype, Google".  
  7. ^ "Free Internet, Google services on Airtel mobile connection".  
  8. ^ "Poke Me: Why consumers, not companies, should be kings of internet".  
  9. ^ "Instant messaging app firms should be regulated: Airtel CEO".  
  10. ^ "Trai rejects telcos' proposal to charge fee on popular services like WhatsApp, Viber and Skype".  
  11. ^ "Facebook, WhatsApp, others must be taxed: Vodafone".  
  12. ^ "Net Neutrality: Here is everything you need to know about it".  
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