TRAI backs net neutrality in India, says internet services must be non-discriminatory

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has backed net neutrality in India with a free and open internet in a series of recommendations. They also allowed ISP’s  to use some traffic management practices (TMPs) as long as they’re transparent.

After debating the issue for nearly two years, it has strongly recommended the telecom department to amend license terms to prevent any kind of discrimination on internet services based on content, apps or any other service or data that travels on the internet.

“Internet access services should be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content,” — TRAI said in a statement.

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 service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, ender or receiver, protocols or user equipment,”– it added.

It is to be noted that in February 2016, TRAI prevents telecom providers from charging differential rates for data services in its Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016  thereby effectively blocking such attempts by Facebook and Airtel.

“Specialised service i.e services other than Internet Access Services which are optimised for specific content, protocols or user equipment, and where the optimisation is necessary in order to meet specific quality of service requirements shall be exempted from the principles of discriminatory treatment,” TRAI said

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As a result, ISP’s in India cannot indulge in any form of contract with individuals or companies that show discrimination based on content, sender, receiver, protocols or even equipment.

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