Telcos are trying to convert the Internet into a closed system. But there is still hope

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Telcos are trying to convert the Internet into a closed system. But there is still hope
Salman Khan verdict is out, Rahul baba has joined Twitter, preparations of Modi’s China visit are in full force, IPL is gaining momentum and keeping people glued to TV screens...yet amid all these changes we are not hearing any positive news on Net Neutrality. Yes, the topic is buzzing and getting all due attention from all spheres of the world, but neither government nor telcos are taking any concrete measures to ensure that Internet doesn’t become a private property in the coming times.

Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who had earlier submitted his counter comments to the submissions made by Telecom Companies to the TRAI Consultation Paper on “Regulatory Framework for OTT Services, points out that the erroneous claims made by Telecom companies, that Over The Top Services such as Skype and Whatsapp have impacted their revenues and therefore, their capacity to make investments into the Telecom Sector are unjustifiable. He states that such claims “do not justify any costs or discrimination to be borne by the Internet consumer” and that “no discussion on viability can cause Telcos/Internet Access Providers to become a gatekeeper of the Internet.”

Challenging the claims made by Vodafone in their submission, which cites the example of “Apple Inc deciding what software is allowed on their devices”, to make a case for a non –neutral Internet, Chandrasekhar has said, “Apple Inc’s ecosystem is a propriety ecosystem that is privately owned while Internet is an open ecosystem and has no owners. It is precisely to avoid the conversion of this open and fair internet into a proprietary, Telco gatekeeped set of islands on the Internet, that the consumers require Net Neutrality in India.” He further states, “Vodafone must be thanked for making available to the consumers and to the public, this desire of theirs to convert the Internet to an Apple Inc like closed system. I have referred to this as the Cabelization of the Internet and Net Neutrality prevents that from happening.”
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Now, this makes one wonder if counter comments on Net Neutrality in India would ever come to a close, but wait, there is some hope. By tomorrow i.e. 8 th of May all stakeholders would be submitting their counter comments on the issue to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which would then deliver their recommendations to the Telecom Ministry shortly. In the interim, the Department of Telecommunications’ consultation on Net Neutrality is also underway, and according to a statement by the Telecom Minister, is expected to be released in the last week of May.

With the Consultation process coming to a close, the focus now shifts to the Government – whose decision on Net Neutrality and the issue of regulating Over The Top Services shall impact the Digital India program – which experts believe, requires an enabling, open policy ecosystem to be successful. One must note, over 11 lakh Indian consumers had earlier written to TRAI, in protest of their one sided consultation paper, which suggested that OTT players be brought under a regulatory framework.

(Image: India Times)
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