Net neutrality requires telecom service providers to treat all internet traffic equally, without regard for the type, origin, or destination of the content or the means of its transmission.The issue has been debated upon globally as well as in India, with activists arguing the case for an open internet without any restrictions on speed.
TRAI also recommended that "specialised services" and content delivery networks (CDNs) be excluded from the scope of "any rules on net neutrality".
However, an official with one of the telecom companies, on condition of anonymity, said the CDN exemption would be taken care of by the regulator's recommendation that the service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract "that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment". "It would also not restrict adoption of reasonable traffic management practices by the service provider", said the recommendations.
These recommendations make Net Neutrality - the principle that says that all bits on the internet should be treated equally - rules in India far more ironclad than in the United States, where the FCC moved last week to repeal rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing websites, or charging a premium for "fast lanes" for things like high-quality streaming.
"Networks should not prefer one content over other.should not block or offer fast lane (to certain content)", he said.
The regulator will come out with a consultation paper on over-the-top (OTT) players soon. It has clarified specialised services are not allowed as a replacement for Internet Access Services and the provision of the "specialised services is not detrimental to the availability and overall quality of Internet Access Service". Even as telecom regulators around the globe are pushing the world towards a non-neutral internet, TRAI has been doing its bit to keep the internet free of discriminatory practices.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has backed the basic principles of an open and free internet in its recommendations on Net Neutrality released on Tuesday.
However, this is not the first time that TRAI has ruled in favour of upholding the ideals of a free and open internet. With TRAI playing its part, it's up to the ministry of communications and information technology to now incorporate the recommendations in legislation.
The new regulations go a step further and recommend prohibiting any service provider from throttling data speeds. Internet firms lauded Trai's recommendations, while telecom operators said that the regulator has applied a "narrow definition" to the topic.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's headquarters in New Delhi.