Parliamentary panel meets telcos on net neutrality, call drops


New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) : The Parliamentary panel on IT today held its first meeting with telecom operators Airtel, Vodafone and Idea on the controversial issue of net neutrality and plans to complete the consultation process with all stakeholders in 7-8 rounds.

The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology, which also discussed the issue of call drops, has decided to hold the next meeting in the first week of June.

An in-depth study is necessary on this new subject of net neutrality, said member of the Committee and CPM leader P Karunakaran.

He said telecom regulator TRAI has completed the consultation process and “we have to intervene now. We will call all stakeholders”.

“The main issue is that common people should get the benefits and it should not be at the will and pressure of private companies,” he added.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Telecom Ministry, private companies and other stakeholders will be consulted before taking a final call, he said.

All the three companies submitted their views on net neutrality on the lines of whatever they had proposed to telecom regulator TRAI.

Telecom operators had suggested to TRAI a licensing regime for over-the-top players like WhatsApp and Skype that offer communication services same as theirs.

However, net neutrality calls for equal treatment to all Internet traffic while any priority given to an application or company on payment basis is seen as violating the concept.

The issue of net neutrality has been widely debated in the recent past, within and outside Parliament, and TRAI had received nearly 10 lakhs comments from individuals, service providers and their associations, among others.

The Committee Chairman Anurag Singh Thakur said: “Even call drop issue was on the agenda of the meeting. Idea, Airtel and Vodafone have submitted their views on the subject at short notice. We will study them in detail.”

The Committee has decided to call other stakeholders and consumers to know their version on both the important issues, he told reporters after the meeting.

The panel had asked from these private companies the reasons and compulsions behind call drops and also their views on net neutrality.