Net Neutrality row generates 1MN replies in Indian consultation

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 27 April 2015

The Indian communications regulator has received over a million emails as the electronic deadline for responses to its net neutrality consultation process.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued the public consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) Services in March 2015, after lobbying against net neutrality by the country's telecommunications operators.

Currently India has no laws governing net neutrality, which would allow all Internet users to be treated equally online, without discrimination or differentiation on charging by user, content, site, platform, application, connected device or mode of communication.

Back in February 2012, Sunil Bharti Mittal, the CEO of mobile operator Bharti Airtel, suggested that services like YouTube should pay an interconnect charge to network operators, saying that if telecommunications operators are building highways for data then there should be a tax on the highway. Since then, other Indian telcos have echoed such views.

However, an online campaign against such 'taxation', orchestrated by Net Neurality India has achieved its objective in encouraging a million emails were sent to TRAI during the consultation.

"The Internet's success in fostering innovation, access to knowledge and freedom of speech is in large part due to the principle of net neutrality — the idea that Internet service providers give their customers equal access to all lawful websites and services on the Internet, without giving priority to any website over another," according to the Net Neturality.

Facebook founder, Mark Zukerberg has also been drawn into the argument, and has defended Facebook's tie-up with Reliance Communications to provide free Internet access to 33 websites as part of its initiative.

"We fully support net neutrality. We want to keep the Internet open. Net neutrality ensures network operators don't discriminate by limiting access to services you want to use. It's an essential part of the open Internet, and we are fully committed to it. But net neutrality is not in conflict with working to get more people connected. These two principles — net neutrality and universal connectivity — can and must coexist," said Mark Zukerberg.