Government likely to release report on net neutrality this week

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 22, 2015 15:26 IST

Remember how the government was supposed to come out with a formal statement about its stand on net neutrality in India last month? Well, it's finally happening this week, at least according to this report.

The Economic Times says that the goverment's report on net neutrality will back the Centre's stance that the internet should be completely free with no discrimination between content, and will likely be released this week.

The report is currently with the Prime Minister's Office and will essentially be the backbone of a set of policies around net neutrality that will be put into place.

"A panel has the taken the views of all the stakeholders before submitting it to the telecom minister. There were a few critical points of debate such as allowing zero rating plans or not. The report will back the government's stand unequivocally," a person familiar with the matter told The Economic Times.

The concept of net neutrality is simple: on the Internet, all bits are equal. What you do with the data you pay for -- watch a YouTube video, send a WhatsApp message or make a Skype call -- is entirely your prerogative and in an ideal world, your Internet service provider should not prioritise certain kinds of bits over others.

It's important to remember that even though Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has spoken out in support of net neutrality in the past, it is the actual fine print of the government's report that will actual matter in framing a consumer-friendly policy.

The concept of net neutrality first became mainstream in India in December 2014 after Airtel announced and then quickly retracted its plans to charge consumers separately for using VoIP services like Skype and Viber over its data networks.

In April, over a million people emailed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), urging the regulator to support an open internet in India.

Net neutrality is important because a non-neutral internet not only hurts consumers but also hurts emerging startups.

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