The DoT panels Net Neutrality report that came out on Thursday is being viewed as a huge victory for the supporters of net neutrality in India. The report has defined the core principles of net neutrality as, ‘No blocking’ of any lawful content, ‘no degradation’ of internet traffic based on the content, application, services or end user and ‘no paid prioritization’ which creates discrimination.
As a part of this report, the panel has suggested regulating local and national calls over VoIP apps such as WhatsApp and Skype. This might lead to consumers paying for such calls within India. However
messaging and international calls made through these apps should not be regulated and will remain free. It is being said that this move has been made mainly to appease the Telecom companies who have been losing money as more and more people use free messaging and voice calling services.
The panel has also suggested that there will be no regulation of application services thus allowing all other apps to be accessible to all the consumers without and preference given to any particular app.
The panel mentions that no tarrif plans which block, throttle or prioritize content will be permitted and has left it to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to decide whether any tariff plan, including the controversial zero rating plan, violates the principles of net neutrality. Complaints on tariff plans will be dealt with on a case by case basis. This clause has led to some apprehensions among the consumers about the freedom of internet.
The panel has heavily criticized Facebook’s Internet.org initiative calling Facebook a gatekeeper who was violating the principles of net neutrality.
We got some of the reactions from startup founders about the recently released report.
Mr. Ashok Reddy, CEO & Founder, GrabOn says,
“Its more important for us because we are primarily into the ecommerce space and we have over 2000 + merchants on board. Even though we rank #1 for all the organic keywords for the upcoming merchants which have good search volume, we are not sure if the ISP will load the page fast enough for the user to complete the buying cycle.
If the gate keepers continue to harass the young entrepreneurs our country may never come out of the service mind set and will not innovate on creating products for our people.”
Mr. Rahul Garg, CEO, IndianGiftsPortal.com says
‘I think it’s a good step by DoT as it allows for new players, both large & small, to continue to innovate their products to provide better, more efficient & cheaper services to end users. Net Neutrality is extremely important to allow new players to disrupt old technologies and create efficient products for the future. I think it is important for large corporations to embrace this change & adapt their products to benefit from changing consumer behaviour rather than use tactics such as “Zero rating” to create unfair advantage & hamper innovation.’
Mr. Navneet Singh, CEO & Co-founder, PepperTap says
Prima Facie, it seems generally good for the industry. There are some concerns on the privacy part wherein authorities/telcos may need to distinguish between voice/data of OTT services. However, they seem to be a step in the right direction. On the zero rating plans, I have mixed feelings currently – I feel it’s not entirely in the spirit of net neutrality even though Telcos are comparing them with Toll Free numbers.