Indian Telecoms Regulator Pushes Net Neutrality

The Net Neutrality debate has been a hot button issue across the globe with many varied opinions forming between politicians, regulators and activists. It essentially comes down to how people view the Internet. Is it a luxury, a commodity, is it an educational tool like a book or is it something more inherently essential to our day-to-day lives, like water or electricity.

Most legislators and politicians have taken the business route and seen Net Neutrality as a hindrance that would prevent companies from milking as much from consumers as possible, while others have argued that these capitalist policies have not harmed other markets where competition and business has thrived by allowing companies to offer premium services to premium customers.

The main fear of most is that the poor and middle class would end up with throttled internet access as they cannot afford premium data charges inherent in a market orientated internet. Fortunately in India politicians have taken all these factors into consideration and decided to enforce full net neutrality. This would make doing everything from enjoying mobile games to sending emails simpler.

TRAI Champions Freedom Of Information

This was a truly humanitarian policy move as India has some of the poorest rural communities in the world along with a highly urbanised section in the population. Net Neutrality is the best way to cater to these two extremes of society, offering all the people in the country equal access to the wealth of information and access to services that is inherent with the Internet.

It would certainly play a massive role in boosting local businesses and local economies. While not as big as in say China, online shopping and services have taken off immensely in the country. The internet also plays an important role in transferring money across the country, especially when it comes to gambling and sports betting which is a huge industry in India hat could easily take a knock without Net Neutrality regulations in place.

A Year Of Talks

The decision by the Indian Telecom Regulatory Authority, or TRIA, comes after a year of debate on the topic. Since countries across the globe have taken varied stances it has been a tough call as there has not been much precedent to work with.

The body said that they oppose any discriminatory treatment of data or in any way choking or limiting Internet speeds. Poor Internet speeds can have many adverse effects, from not allowing people to play the online baccarat Canada has to offer, to simply not being able to receive emails or communicate via chat.The TRAI already ruled in favour of Net Neutrality principles in February of 2016 but their recent regulations further enshrined Net Neutrality principles.

Naturally operators in the country have either declined to comment or vocalised their disappointment. The Cellular Operators Association of India has said that they were hoping the TRAI would prefer to take a market-orientated approach, which would not stifle development, innovation and growth. Exactly how a free and open Internet would stifle any growth or development is a whole other question by itself.

This ruling is in direct contrast to the United State’s approach with the FCC taking the market-orientated approach. Activists have been quick to note that the Net Neutrality laws still need to be implemented into licensing laws so the battle is not quite yet over. From here the country’s Department of Telecommunications needs to use the TRAI’s recommendations and codify it into new licensing a greements and laws.

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