Once again the Net Neutrality debate has come under spotlight following the Dot Committee detailing its recommendation on the issue. According to the report, “The core principles of Net Neutrality must be adhered to”.
Overall, the recommendations come as a relief to consumers as it rejects regulation of over-the-top messaging services but Voice over Internet Protocol calls through services such as Skype and Viber may come under scanner. DoT and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will collectively announce the final call on subject.
Meanwhile, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has expressed its encouragement on the panel’s recommendation and agrees with the report that the primary goal of public policy should be directed towards facilitating affordable and universal connectivity across India. This is in line with IAMAI’s submission on Net Neutrality to the DoT, according to an announcement by the industry body.
Net Neutrality seeks to guarantee consumers equal and non-discriminatory access to all data, apps and services on internet, with no discrimination on the basis of tariffs or speed, and the DoT paper also conforms to the view of IAMAI.
Most importantly, the recommendation of the panel also clarified that search should be neutral and the ranking must be based on relevance rather than editorial decisions. IAMAI believes that bringing in more regulation would be counterproductive to innovation and investments in telecommunication sector and hamper the growth of the progressive economy like India.
According to IAMAI, zero rating and other pro-access programs have the potential to dramatically expand internet access in India and bring more people online, but the report fails to fully recognize the value and potential of such programs.
However, at a closer look it emerges that not all zero ratings are violating the net neutrality principles and especially in countries like India where the Internet penetration is very low, such services can actually help in faster proliferation of broadband. “The Net Neutrality laws should keep the plan of zero-rated services open and implement along the lines that is not anti-competitive and in lines with the principles of Net Neutrality,” the statement by IAMAI added.
In light of the observations made in the DoT Committee Report on Net Neutrality, IAMAI states that there are already enough regulations on the Internet Telephony in and there is no need to further bring a licensing or revenue share arrangement between the OTT (over-the-top) services and telecom service provider. This will disrupt VOIP and will also skew any further innovation in the same field which is need of the hour in a nation like India.