India not in position to scrap Net Neutrality: Experts

Sunil Pradhan
Friday, 15 December 2017

Pune: With the scrapping of Net Neutrality regulations in the United States of America (USA) bringing disappointment to several people, cyber experts claim that India is not in a position to do the same. 

Pune: With the scrapping of Net Neutrality regulations in the United States of America (USA) bringing disappointment to several people, cyber experts claim that India is not in a position to do the same. 

The Net Neutrality rule requires internet service providers to treat all traffic as equal. In February 2016, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had supported internet neutrality, bringing relief to several netizens in India. TRAI then ruled that no telecom service provider (TSP) can offer or charge discriminatory tariff for data services on the basis of content.

Similarly it said no TSP shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged by the service provider for the purpose of evading the prohibition in this regulation. Cyber experts highlight that the telecom infrastructure in India is miles away from that of the USA and so scrapping Net Neutrality would not benefit the TSP on a large scale. 

Cyber expert Pankajj Ghode, founder of Global Blockchain Foundation said scrapping Net Neutrality will affect the competitiveness of websites. "We do not have good telecom infrastructure to handle scrapping of Net Neutrality law. India is also pro-privacy and scrapping Net Neutrality means the Internet service providers can closely track what you are accessing on the internet and for how long," added Ghode. 

Cyber expert Anil Raj of Cybervault Securities Pvt Ltd said that in 2015 telecom service providers were not practising Net Neutrality and so TRAI intervened to bring in the law. "While in India one struggles to get a speed of 50 MBPS (megabytes per second) in USA people have Internet speed of 10 GBPS (gigabytes per second). So first we need to develop infrastructure to make differential tariff for data services feasible for the TSP," added Raj. 

TRAI earlier said that considering India's large number of internet users and content producers, both of which are rising exponentially, the Authority has taken the view that prohibition of discriminatory tariff for data services is necessary to ensure that service providers continue to fulfil their obligations in keeping the internet open and non-discriminatory. 

However, cyber expert Harold D'costa opined that differential tariff rates for different websites could be a possibility in the future in India. "Internet has now commercialised and the government and internet service providers will look to provide differential services based in price paid by customer. It will be similar like television packages," added D'costa."

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