Naveen Patnaik writes to TRAI on net neutrality as Flipkart, others leave Airtel Zero
Reliance and now Airtel both are trying to laugh at the very concept of net neutrality with their outrageous plans. Both the companies are working hard to earn quick bucks at the very cost of the net neutrality by making some websites available free of costs to consumers.
In the process these companies make hefty amount of money as though these top companies websites and apps will be available without any internet package, other websites will become less attractive as you will have to shell out money for data package. The equality will end as people may no longer think to spend money for seeing similar stuff or buying similar products from rival websites that are not available for free.
In the meantime the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) alleged that TRAI was furthering the agenda of telecom operators on this issue, even as the submissions received by the regulator neared 8-lakh level on the matter. The telecom sector regulator has invited public comments on a discussion paper on policy framework for net-neutrality and internet-based messaging and calling service providers such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and Google Talk.
People are very angry indeed. â€œIt looks like Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its consultation paper, has copy-pasted from submissions of telcos. India has a robust and at times, overbearing IT Act,â€ IAMAI President Subho Ray said. IAMAI counts global as well as domestic Internet firms like Google, Facebook, Snapdeal, Ola, MakeMyTrip and Saavn as its members. Expressing support for Net Neutrality, Ray said in a statement that â€œthe paper makes an assumption that Internet doesnâ€™t come under any regulations, which is incorrect. All Internet companies are regulated by IT Act.â€
But TRAI is not going to have it easy this time. Sources said that TRAI has already received 7-8 lakh comments on the discussion paper, floated on March 27. IAMAI said that its members met today to discuss the paper and will submit its response in a weekâ€™s time. An intense debate, including on social media platforms, began recently on the issue of â€˜Net Neutralityâ€™ after some telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel and RCOM, announced services that are being billed as going against the concept of maintain equal internet access for all. Airtel has announced its â€˜Airtel Zeroâ€™ initiative, an open marketing platform that allowed customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free. The data charges were being paid by start-ups and large companies.
Some companies are already backing out. Buckling under a growing public outrage, e-commerce giant Flipkart yesterday decided to â€˜walk awayâ€™ from Airtel Zero, while travel portal Cleartrip pulled out of â€˜internet.orgâ€™ platform of Facebook, where RCOM is a partner. The proponents of Net Neutrality claim that these initiatives go against the principle of Net Neutrality that calls for service providers treating all traffic on their networks equally. This means that users should be able to access all websites at the same speed and cost and no website should be given preferential treatment over another. The telecom majors continue to defend their services saying these platform do not violate the concept, but Flipkart yesterday said it realised that Net Neutrality â€œcan get compromised in the futureâ€.