TRAI Recommendations on Net Neutrality (Important) (Download PDF)

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released recommendations on “Net Neutrality” because of a long, multistage consultation process. Give ability to companies to earn sufficient returns on investment without compromising welfare of the public.

Image of Net Neutrality

Image of Net Neutrality

Image of Net Neutrality

Background

  • In March 2015, TRAI issued a Consultation Paper titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-The-Top Service” which touched upon issues related to net neutrality.

  • Later, TRAI issued the “Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016”

Recommendations on Net Neutrality

  • Simplify licensing terms to provide explicit restrictions on any sort or discrimination in Internet access based on the content being accessed, the protocols being used or the user equipment being deployed.

  • “Discriminatory treatment” for content could include any form of discrimination, restriction, or interference in the treatment of’ content, including blocking, degrading, slowing down, or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content.

  • Service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement or contract that has discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment.

  • Scope of the proposed principles on non-discriminatory treatment apply specifically to “Internet Access Services”, which are generally available to the public.

  • Remove ambiguity by defining Internet Access Services.

  • Specialized services, i. e. services other than Internet Access Services optimized for specific content, protocols or user equipment to meet specific quality of service requirements shall be exempted from the principles of discriminatory treatment.

  • DoT is to identify specialized services- specialized services must not be usable (or offered) as a replacement for Internet Access Services; and such services should not be detrimental to the availability and overall quality of Internet Access Services.

  • Internet of Things (IoT) as a class of services, are not excluded from the scope of the restrictions on non-discriminatory treatment. However, critical IoT services identified by DoT and satisfying the definition of specialized services would be automatically excluded.

  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) enabling a Telecom Service Provider (TSP) to deliver content within its network without going through the public Internet, are exempted from the scope of any restrictions on non-discriminatory treatment.

  • The Internet Access Service Providers may take reasonable measurements for traffic management, provided the same are proportionate, transient, and transparent. They are also allowed to take reasonable measures to preserve integrity and security of network, for provision of emergency services, implementation of an order of the court, on direction of the Government, or in pursuance of an international treaty.

  • TSPs shall be required to declare their Traffic Management Practices (TMP), as and when deployed and the impact it may have had on the users. The disclosure requirements also include specialized services, direct or indirect arrangements.

  • Monitoring and investigation of violations is to be done by a collaborative mechanism of a multi-stakeholder body comprising of members representing different categories of TSPs and ISPs, large and small content providers, representatives from research and academia, civil society organisations, and consumer representatives.

Purpose of New Guidelines

  • Build Internet as a public platform with open access to all

  • Address concerns of service providers, which make huge investments for infrastructure.

  • Spread internet as an essential utility

  • New policy allows companies to justify the costs incurred in providing niche content to consumers while effectively addressing the problem of anti-competitive practices adopted by certain providers.

  • It does not provide any guidance on how the government will decide services that count as “specialized” and deserve exceptional treatment by regulators.

What is Net Neutrality

  • Net neutrality is a principle which forces telecom service providers to treat all internet traffic equally, without any regard to the type, origin, or destination of the content or the means of its transmission.

  • That is all traffic on internet should be treated equally i. e. service providers should allow access to all content without favoring any particular product or website.

- Published/Last Modified on: December 10, 2017

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