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Policy & Regulation


Telecom Regulator to seek views on net neutrality compliance soon

TT Correspondent | 15 Apr 2019

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will soon come out with a new round of consultation on the compliance of net neutrality and identification of critical applications that could be exempted under the laid principles around a free Internet.

“Consultation paper on how to monitor net neutrality is almost ready, and we are coming up with it soon on issues which the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has flagged, including applications that can be exempted,” Trai chairman RS Sharma told ET.

The new consultation, according to Sharma, would be on how to ensure the monitoring of mobile phone companies for net neutrality compliance, with some exceptions such as some applications set aside for emergency purposes where the quality of service (QoS) must be maintained and in other scenarios where latency would be important.

Trai had in its recommendations set some limited exceptions out of the ambit of net neutrality – a concept which guarantees free and fair access to the Internet for all - services that of critical nature and those requiring real-time data transfer, in addition to identification of situations when such applications are suspended in abnormal circumstances.

In July 2018, the Telecom Commission, now rechristened to the Digital Communications Commission (DCC), had cleared the net neutrality rules – to be incorporated in licenses of telcos - after a five-year long intense sectoral debate that pitted telecom service operators against content providers.

The regulator had asked the department to notify applications that could be kept away for emergency events or in situations that require low latency, and suggested that for monitoring and enforcement, the government may establish a multi-stakeholder body on issues relating to traffic management and implementation of exceptions and transparency measures.

Earlier this year, the department, in turn, asked the regulator to come out with a separate framework for net neutrality compliance and critical services.

“Service providers have to employ certain mechanism and a deviation from the net neutrality principles could be temporary, proportionate and transparent,” Sharma added.

The applications and situations would be the broad contours that would be under further discussions, the top official said.

Earlier, the regulator had also suggested that in order to ensure net neutrality transparency, a separate set of recommendations would be required.