Indian telecom regulator issues consultation paper on net neutrality

IANS
Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday floated a consultation paper on the much-debated net neutrality issue, seeking stakeholders view by February 15, and counter-comments by February 28.

The net neutrality issue has left the telecom service providers (TSP) and the over-the-top (OTT) players in India at loggerheads.

"Transparency is one of the key enabling factors towards ensuring adherence to the nondiscrimination principles set forth in any net neutrality framework," the consultation paper said.

"In an net neutrality context, the scope of transparency obligations can range from obligations cast upon TSPs to disclose technical information on QoS (quality of services) parameters, to providing high level information that is widely understandable and may enable consumers to make more informed decisions, and detect violations," it added.

Regarding the scope of transparency obligations, the paper has put thrust on price information and commercial terms and traffic management practices along with many other characteristics.

The consultation paper asked stakeholders: "What could be the principles for ensuring nondiscriminatory access to content on the Internet, in the Indian context?" and how should "Internet traffic" and providers of "Internet services" be understood in the NN context?"

It sought views of the regulators on reasonable traffic management practices as well as regarding what would be the most effective legal/policy instrument for implementing a net neutrality framework in India.

Timeline of net neutrality related activities:

January 19, 2015 - Creation of DoT committee on net neutrality

March 27, 2015 - Consultation on regulatory framework for OTT services

May 2015 - Release of DoT committee report on net neutrality

December 9, 2015 - Consultation on differential pricing for data services

February 8, 2016 - Regulation on prohibition of discriminatory tariffs for data services

March 3, 2016 - DoT sought Authority's recommendations on net neutrality

May 19, 2016 - Consultation on free data

May 30, 2016 - Pre-consultation on net neutrality

December 19, 2016 - Recommendations on provisioning of free data


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