Saturday, April 11, 2015

Net Neutrality under threat in India

While the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently adopted strong net neutrality rules that would prevent cable and phone companies from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet, in India the country’s telecommunications regulator (TRAI) has sought comments from consumers whether the telecom companies should be allowed to charge users extra fees for services like YouTube, WhatsApp and Skype on top of the fees already paid for access to the Internet.

The higher charges are sought to keep telecommunications companies in business and they feel to have a right to impose it on a premise that the Internet companies like Google and Facebook are making lots of money on the large infrastructure network created by the telecom operators. But, the telecom operators already earn by charging fees for access to the network and in case the revenue was inadequate, they would have raised prices. But in fact the prices have fallen in recent times. Big telecom companies like Vodafone, which does business are in fact quite profitable.

The proposal, if implemented, would hurt the consumers as access to some services would then cost more money. It would also hurt smaller Internet businesses who could not afford to pay fees to get preferential access. There is resistance to the proposal in the country. TRAI has sought comments from the consumers by 24th April, 2015. Internet activists are organizing campaigns through Twitter, Facebook and other social media sits educating the consumers against the regulator’s proposal.

The Internet has been so successful till now because people have been able to use it how they wish to do. The worst thing that can be done is to allow the telecom companies to mess with that. Let us see how the netizens are able to influence the government, regulator and telecom operators in the country.

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