Net neutrality: IAMAI opposes zero-rating plans

TOI
Monday, August 24, 2015

Opposing zero-rated plans of any type, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said such plans will harm online content and also allow telcos to discriminate certain web services over others.

In its submissions to a Department of Telecom (DoT) report on net neutrality last week, IAMAI said it clearly and unambiguously opposed zero-rated plans of any type.

Thursday was the last date to submit comments on the DoT report.

The government had sought public comments following a controversy on zero-rated plans that are seen to be discriminatory.

It will firm up regulations after taking considering public opinion and regulator TRAI's suggestions.

"These plans will ultimately harm internet content and service providers by limiting competition among them, and, by extension, limit consumer choice," it said.

Such plans will also "allow the operators, if given control of which apps or services to push to consumers, to discriminate and privilege certain web services over others, and throttle innovation".

The association also opposed the proposal to licence domestic and national VoIP (voice over internet), as suggested by the DoT paper.

IAMAI contends that such a regime will be directly against consumer interest and against future innovations.

The association said that licensing one type of internet service may be the beginning of a "slippery slope" and may lead to a clamour for so called "same service same rules" for other internet services.

The association has also reiterated that it does not support any plans that violate principles of net neutrality "especially paid or unpaid prioritisation or other discriminatory practices".

The association has also cautioned that while traffic management is a technical right vested with telecom operators, this right should not be misused to charge customers differentially for different types of data.

The issue of net neutrality flared up after Airtel and Facebook came out with Airtel Zero and Internet.org, respectively, which were seen to flout neutrality norms.

Airtel Zero is an open marketing platform that allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free, with data charges being paid by startups and large firms.


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