ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Blow for an Open Internet

The regulator's ruling on net neutrality is correct; the question is how do we expand internet usage in India?

The decision by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to prohibit internet service providers from charging discriminatory tariff based on content is welcome. This decision ensures that internet service provision in India will conform to a strict definition of net neutrality, allowing the internet to be open, and content, applications and services to be treated equally by service providers.

The decision came after the TRAI had sought public consultations on the regulatory framework for over-the-top services, which are internet-based apps and services on mobile phones. The need for such regulation grew out of the increasing internet use on mobile phones—83% of Indian internet users access the net through mobile phones—which meant new web-based mobile services let users bypass traditional usage charges. Telecom companies in India and elsewhere in the world as well face a major challenge from such web-based mobile services, as they earn no revenue from these services other than charging users for data. One way to monetise some part of this data traffic would be to have agreements with web-based app and services companies to share revenue.

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