Backing the idea of the free and open internet, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) upheld net neutrality in its recommendations on Tuesday. The telecom regulator had earlier issued a consultation paper for over-the-top service. In 2016, Department of Telecommunications had sought TRAI’s recommendations on net neutrality. Trai has also dealt with the issue of differential pricing of data access.
In long-awaited recommendations on the matter, the Trai restricted 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.
In its recommendations on principle of non-discriminatory treatment, Trai said, “A Licensee providing Internet Access Service shall not engage in any discriminatory treatment of content, including based on the sender or receiver, the protocols being used or the user equipment.”
“The Licensee is prohibited 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 of content,” it added.
Interestingly, the regulator also remained open to the adoption of “reasonable traffic management practices” by the service provider or mobile providers. This may give space to telecom companies to engage in certain activities where they can control the flow of content over their mobile services.
Elaborating on the ‘specialized services’ leeway, it said that these could be services which are not usable or offered as a replacement for internet access services. “…the provision of the specialized services is not detrimental to the availability and overall quality of internet access service,” Trai said.