Centre clears Net Neutrality norms: Internet stays free and fair in India

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In a bid to ensure that netizens continue to have free and fair access to the internet, the government recently approved the principles of net neutrality in India. So now your Internet provider can not boost the speed of videos on several sites while slowing down video from other video streaming sites.

India's Telecom Commission (TC) has approved net neutrality norms that bars service providers from discriminating against internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access, officials said Thursday.

"The Telecom Commission (TC) today approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI expect some critical services will be kept out of its purview", Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan was quoted as saying in a Business Standard report.

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Sundararajan said DoT would identify the critical services and there will be a separate regime for such services in consultation with Trai informally but licenses will be amended immediately to accommodate net neutrality principles. The two services were later banned by Trai. This clause has been put in because these services often need to prioritise some things and situations over others. The concept of network neutrality comes from the idea that the users mobile, cable, or phone internet connection should provide access to all websites and online traffic in "neutral" and "equal" manner, without giving priority to any other website. The draft policy focuses on provisioning of broadband for all, creating 4 million additional jobs and enhancing the contribution of the sector to 8 per cent of India's GDP from around 6 per cent in 2017.

The telecoms do not cap maximum download speeds at 21 megabits per second or slower, the commission said, adding that Internet speeds accessed by NT$499 monthly plan subscribers are no different to those of more expensive plans. It then launched the Airtel Zero platform which provided free access to certain websites that paid for the service.

Trai had, however, allowed fast lanes for specialised services that DoT must define, and permitted telcos to use traffic management practices to maintain the quality of service.

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The government has taken an "unambiguous stand" on the issue by endorsing net neutrality rules proposed last November, India's telecom regulator said on Thursday. "That said, we reiterate our earlier position that a light touch regulatory approach should be adopted so that the Net Neutrality rules do not hamper innovation", Rajan S Mathews, the Director General of COAI, said in a statement.

The Senate is meeting to revive net neutrality, but chances are Trump Republicans will back the FCC and net neutrality will die.

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