TRAI’s free data paper echoes net neutrality sentiments

IT companies have expressed their concern over the possible violation of net neutrality as the regulator TRAI has proposed to explore models that provide free data. Telecom operators have questioned this move.

Also read: Airtel Zero: Unethical Way to split Internet

The difference in the opinion of various sects doesn’t end here for this proposal. Several individuals and internet based companies have talked in favor and formed a part of a consultation paper. They would be just needing possible safeguards to make sure that the principle of net neutrality is not violated. TRAI has launched a consultation paper that has the details of the plans that it is planning to propose for the free internet. The regulator, which is exploring a ‘toll-free’ number like facility for accessing online platforms, received comments from 11 telecom operators including internet service providers, 25 companies, and organizations, 14 individual who addressed questions. Several one lined comments were also received from different individuals.

The last date for the consultation papers was June 30, while July 14 is the last date for counter comments. Top internet based companies like Hike, Times Intenet, Medianama all appreciated the move, however, they also needed the assurance that the principle of net neutrality is not getting violated.

“We strongly believe there is a large opportunity in this market for a TSP (telecom service provider) agnostic platform to exist that allows start-ups like ours to purchase data in bulk that in turn, we can use to make certain parts of the app free,” Hike Messenger said.

“The innovative data services tariff plans introduced by the telecom service providers (TSP), reflected the very thought process that TRAI has mooted through this consultation paper on ‘Free Data’,” COAI and AUSPI said in their comments.

According to Airtel, companies have already invested crores of rupees in the infrastructure that is needed for the distribution and growth of Internet, so they will act as the gateway rather than a gatekeeper for the service as they have a lot at stake. “Thus, Indian telecom companies are committed to act as a gateway, as opposed to a gatekeeper, to Internet access,” said Airtel.

I also think that free internet is something that we need in India. For quite some time now, countries all across the world have been implementing  this model. However, for a few years, net neutrality is a hot topic and endless discussions have been going on platforms across the country. The moves by the companies to make sure that the net neutrality remains intact is definitely a very important one.

Have anything to add? Do let us know in the comments section.

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