Why India needs to get rid of ‘net neutrality’ to save internet
India’s internet could soon be without ‘net’ as well as ‘neutrality’ if its telecom regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), fails to act quickly to get the rules revised and scrapped.
This is the latest in a series of regulatory hurdles that have stalled the country’s nascent internet sector, with some critics calling for it to be scrapped altogether.
In a scathing statement, TRAI chief Kirti Azad has said that “unregulated internet cannot be an equal access to content, commerce and information”.TRAIs rules on net neutrality and data caps are a major stumbling block for the sector and a source of consternation among some internet users.TRAi has come under fire for being slow to act on net neutrality rules, and the recent decision to repeal net neutrality rules is a setback for its effort to move ahead.
However, there are still some positive signs for India’s nascent online ecosystem.
TRAI has now removed a section of the TRAI Rules, which requires internet service providers (ISPs) to ensure that consumers get access to all their websites at the same time.
This has been welcomed by internet users who are concerned about the lack of choice and competition in the sector.
A similar move was taken by the UK government in May to remove a requirement for ISPs to offer internet service across their network.
There are also signs that TRAI is finally considering how to deal with the issue of zero rating, a phenomenon where internet service is delivered to specific devices with no ability to switch to other services.
The TRAI rules, however, do not prohibit zero rating.TREI has also said that it will soon introduce a “net neutrality” framework to ensure access to the internet is open to all.