Internet has transformed from being a luxury to utility in today’s era.Internet has been pivotal to making the world closer through social networking, helping budding entrepreneurs and more importantly a platform to express your views.
But off late there has been raging debate about how big corporations are trying to stifle Net Neutrality around the globe.Now a similar debate has started in India about Net Neutrality. Big telecom companies have forced TRAI to release a Consultation Paper On Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services (click here) . OTT services include players like Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and Google Talk.
So what is the entire fuss about as many people are not aware on the entire issue and implications? I will try to break down the entire issue below.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality is generally construed to mean that ISPs must treat all internet traffic on an equal basis, no matter its type or origin of content or means used to transmit packets. All points in a network should be able to connect to all other points in the network and service providers should be able to deliver traffic from one point to another seamlessly, without any differentiation on speed, access or price. The principle simply means that all internet traffic should be treated equally.
In simple words it means whether you are accessing Naukri.com or Monster.com, you as a consumer are entitled to same loading speed.
What do ISPs want around the globe?
ISPs want to create two types of broadband speed lanes. The first lane would be a fast lane for which content provider like Netflix would be forced to pay a fee in order to stream content at high speeds to users.
The second lane known as the slow lane would be companies who can’t pay the fees
Why is Net Neutrality Important?
Net Neutrality is important for a secular ecosystem.If net neutrality was absent, a startup like Facebook couldn’t have upstaged MySpace.Net Neutrality has been responsible for a number of innovations on the internet.Online services like Youtube,Google,Netflix and many more.
If we had a dual speed ecosystem then big corporations would buy up fast lane lines leaving potential start up competitors is a big disadvantage because they might not have the same deep pockets.
ISPs can also charge extra for the free calls you make using services like WhatsApp, Skype and others, and eventually the load of additional payable sum by the OTT players will be pushed onto consumers.So absence of net neutrality means no competition for existing big corporations, lower consumer benefits and stifles innovation.
Why has debate suddenly caught fire in India?
In all started with Airtel announcing initially plans to charge decision to charge extra for calls on Skype,Viber and other VoIP apps in December 2014.This move by Airtel drew a lot of criticism and started a debate on net neutrality.
Reliance went a step ahead with Internet.org with Facebook to offer free access to different services and site.Airtel announced Airtek Zero in competition allowing you free access to as set of applications.How does Airtel Benefit ? The application like Flipkart have to pay up to Airtel for being a free application. So it means that a new startup can’t compete as explained earlier.
What has Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) done ?
TRAI has floated a Consultation paper named as Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services(click here) on its website on 27th March 2015. Stakeholders are requested to send their comments preferably in electronic form by 24th April, 2015 and counter comments by 8 th May 2015 on email id firstname.lastname@example.org
Videos explaining Net Neutrality:
What can we do to voice our opinion?
You can voice in your opinion on http://www.savetheinternet.in/ and submit your responses to TRAI via email email@example.com
In hindsight, Freebies offered might be good but everything comes at a cost. In conclusion, I would personally urge people to try and understand the concept and have an unbiased opinion about Net Neutrality.