Hold public dis­cus­sion on net neu­tral­ity: Tele­com op­er­a­tors to DoT

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

Tele­com op­er­a­tors have asked the gov­ern­ment to hold public dis­cus­sion on the is­sue of In­ter­net neu­tral­ity with a view to en­sur­ing unhindered ac­cess to Web-based ser­vices.

In­dus­try body Cel­lu­lar Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (COAI) has asked the Depart­ment of Tele­com (DoT) to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly be­fore firm­ing up its view. DoT has al­ready set up a com­mit­tee un­der Tele­com Com­mis­sion mem­ber (Tech­nol­ogy) AK Bhar­gava to make sug­ges­tions on the sub­ject. At present In­dia does not have any leg­is­la­tion on net neu­tral­ity.

Un­der the net-neu­tral­ity prin­ci­ple, tele­com and In­ter­net com­pa­nies should treat all Web-based ser­vices equally and there should be no dif­fer­en­tial pric­ing or any kind of bar­rier that dis­cour­ages peo­ple from ac­cess­ing ser­vices. The is­sue came to lime­light af­ter tele­com ma­jor Bharti Air­tel in De­cem­ber de­cided to charge separately for VoIP calls that are made us­ing the In­ter­net con­nec­tion. The com­pany later with­drew its scheme fol­low­ing huge public out­cry at the pre­scribed rate for VoIP calls.

In a let­ter to Tele­com Sec­re­tary Rakesh Garg, COAI Direc­tor Gen­eral Ra­jan S Mathews said: “We would also like to re­spect­fully re­quest the DoT to ini­ti­ate an open con­sul­ta­tion with all stake­hold­ers to ex­am­ine all is­sues per­tain­ing to net neu­tral­ity be­fore for­mu­lat­ing a view on this is­sue.”

Tele­com op­er­a­tors and VoIP ser­vice providers or over-the-top (OTT) play­ers are against the is­sue. Tele­com op­er­a­tors say that OTT play­ers like Skype, What­sApp and Viber are eat­ing up their main rev­enue with­out in­vest­ing in net­works. On the other hand, OTT play­ers should main­tain ac­cess to In­ter­net or Web-based ser­vice, which must be al­lowed with­out any hur­dle to the growth of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

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