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TRAI Releases Consultation Paper On Internet Traffic Management, Net Neutrality

TRAI Releases Consultation Paper On Internet Traffic Management, Net Neutrality

TRAI has released this paper in response to DoT directives in 2018

The paper is open for stakeholder comments till January 2020

Net Neutrality had stirred a nationwide movement in 2016 - 2017

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a new consultation paper on issues related to traffic management practices (TMPs) and the setting up of a multi-stakeholder body on net neutrality. The paper discusses various challenges in the measurement of internet traffic and compilation of reasonable traffic management practices, the regulatory body said.  

Further, it also deals with the establishment of a framework to formulate TMPs and issues related to composition, function, governance structure of various multi-stakeholder bodies.

The paper is open for comments from stakeholders till January 30, 2020, and for counter comments till February 13, 2020. 

Earlier in 2018, in response to TRAI’s net neutrality recommendations, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked TRAI to “recommend the composition, functions, role and responsibilities of the multi-stakeholder body”. It had also asked the regulatory body to “recommend necessary traffic management practices for consideration of the DoT.”

Why Net Neutrality Is Important?

As all the major internet service providers in India, except Jio, battle unprecedented losses, the need to define rules around internet traffic management, the demand for net neutrality has intensified. Following the launch of Facebook Basics platform, Net Neutrality had instigated a national campaign across India. Supporters of net neutrality had argued that Facebook’s service violated the principles of free and open internet. 

TRAI had then issued the ‘Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016’  which said that no company can charge subscribers with discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content. 

Net Neutrality could be understood as to how a phone company should not decide who we can call and not call, similarly, an internet service provider should not be able to meddle with the sites we can access or not access. It’s the idea of considering all bits of data are equal and thus ISPs should not have the power to discriminate against certain companies or content or user. 

As per the recent TRAI report, India has a total of 665.31 Mn internet subscribers, out of which, wired internet subscribers are 21.6 Mn and wireless internet subscribers are 643.6 Mn. Also, a 2019 Google report found that on average India adds 40 Mn internet users on a Y-o-Y basis, which is among the fastest in the world. “An Indian subscriber is using an average 8GB per month mobile data usage which has reached levels of developed markets,” the report added.