Internet should be open and free: Trai backs net neutrality

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday recommended upholding the basic principle of net neutrality by keeping the Internet open and prohibiting any service provider from discriminating on the basis of content by either blocking, throttling, or “fast-laning” any apps, websites or web services.

Recommendations

  • Trai’s recommendation comes days after United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) led by Ajit Pai suggested plans to scrap landmark 2015 rules intended to ensure a free and open internet.
  • The licensing terms should be amplified to provide explicit restrictions on any sort of discrimination in Internet access based on the content being assessed, the protocols being used or the user equipment being deployed. Content would include all content, application, services and any other data, including its end-point information, that can be accessed or transmitted over the internet.
  • Violations of the net neutrality principle will be punishable by penalties that apply to breach of licensing conditions, which will be suitably amended, Sharma said.
  • Net neutrality implies that telecom service providers must treat all internet traffic equally, without any regard to the type, origin or destination of the content or the means of its transmission.
  • Trai’s recommendations will now be vetted by the department of telecommunications (DoT) and after its approval, changes with effect to the licence agreements of telecom firms will be made to accommodate net neutrality.

What is Net Neutrality?

The original meaning of net neutrality says that all the Internet traffic (data) should be treated as equal and no data packets of a certain origin should be favored over other data traveling on the Internet. In other words, all the websites on the Internet should be working at the same average speed provided by your ISP.

History

It began as an academic subject with a wonky name — network neutrality

The word Net neutrality was used after 2000

2003 — The term “net neutrality” is coined by law professor Tim Wu. It is the idea that Internet service providers should treat all Internet traffic equally

Pros of Net Neutrality

It creates an equal playing field

With net neutrality in place, internet service providers have little say on what passes through the mechanisms that are used by customers to access the internet.  An ISP under net neutrality cannot block access, change services, or alter the flow of data simply because there is something that goes on which they don’t like.

It protects innovation

Innovation is protected with the internet remains neutral. Big companies still have the same access as SMBs or freelancers and this allows everyone to earn a comfortable living or offer information in a way that best suits them.

It provides everyone with a freedom of expression

Blogs, services, businesses, and any website that can operate legally is able to do so and be available because of net neutrality.  Without this freedom of expression, it could become easier for illegal content, such as child pornography, to become more available. If a small ISP blocked access to all and approved of such a thing, it could hamper keeping our communities safe.

Illegal activities are still monitored

The goal of net neutrality is to provide every person with an experience that is optimal. This means illegal activities are still prevented, including illegal file sharing, due to the fact that each ISP would be treated as a regulated common carrier.

 

Cons of Net Neutrality

Enormous amounts of data are consumed without compensation

Today, there are real-time video calls. Companies like Netflix providing legal streaming. There is illegal streaming as well. These services are provided for free on the infrastructure of the internet service provider.

Reduced income from internet uses limits infrastructure improvements

There are certain businesses and high-use individuals who consume large amounts of bandwidth every month. If net neutrality was removed, these high-level consumers would be asked to pay more for what they consume. This added income could then be used to upgrade the infrastructure of each internet service provider, making it possible for advanced fiber networks to be installed in many communities.

Free internet access would likely go away

When the internet becomes a place where profitability is the primary concern, the idea of providing free internet access to those who cannot afford it goes away. Providers could charge whatever they wanted and restrict access to whomever they please. This could lead to demographic discrimination, socioeconomic discrimination, or prioritize content to the wealthiest who are willing to pay high prices for the fastest data streams.

Public utilities have plenty of problems that many just overlook

Many utilities face a slowing consumer base, so they raise prices to compensate. That eventually means everyone pays more for the same service without any innovation.

The pros and cons of net neutrality will continue to be debated, especially in terms of cost and access. When each key point is carefully considered and debated, together we can come up with a reasonable solution that will benefit all of us.

Over the top (OTT)

It is a media distribution practice that allows a streaming content provider to sell audio, video, and other media services directly to the consumer over the internet via streaming media as a standalone product, bypassing telecommunications, cable or broadcast television service providers that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.

 

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