Hold public discussion on net neutrality: Telecom operators to DoT
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.