After more than a year of consultations, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday issued its recommendations on net neutrality, saying access to the internet should “be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content”.
Net neutrality is the principle that all data on the internet should be treated equally, which means no internet provider can artificially slow down or speed up a particular website or service. They also cannot put different price tags on different parts of the internet. This ensures that everyone has equal access to all content on the internet.
The regulatory body was expected to stick to its pro-net neutrality stance.
Its recommendations come soon after the United States decided to repeal regulations to protect net neutrality in a month. Without net neutrality, American internet service providers could be free to demand fees from websites to treat different websites and services preferentially.
“The future growth of the telecom sector and of other access networks is contingent upon innovation in and growth of the Internet infrastructure and the many applications, content and services linked to it,” Trai said in its recommendations. “The Authority has recommended an amendment to the license agreements to clarify the principle of unrestricted access given under the appropriate license agreements.”
In May 2016, Trai first released a pre-consultation paper seeking to define net neutrality, three months after it ruled in its favour. The paper said that no service provider in India could offer or charge discriminatory tariff for data services on the basis of content.
Later, in January this year, Trai released a consultation paper and invited public comments. The regulatory body said the purpose of the paper was to “proceed towards the formulation of final views on policy or regulatory interventions”. Trai said it wanted to “identify [the] core principles of net neutrality for India and the types of practices that might be regarded as being in violation of these core principles”.