Do you want to keep your web access free forever then please read this article and please act now
What if internet access to the famous websites starts costing you monies? What if you could access Facebook for free, but LinkedIn cost a little more? If people were charged extra to watch Vimeo videos, what are the chances you would upload your short film there instead of YouTube? It might be somewhat simplistic to reduce the entire net neutrality debate to a matter of rupees, but the point these situations demonstrate is relevant without net neutrality, your internet is not going to be the same.
India’s telecom regulator is gearing up to change the relationship between the internet and its users. In a paper it put out last month, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) made it clear that it is all set to allow telecom companies to turn the internet from an all-you-can-eat buffet into an a la carte menu. Event this article might cost you some money if net neutrality isn’t in place.
The decision hasn’t been made yet. TRAI’s consultation paper also includes 20 questions posed to the industry and the general public, asking for comments on what India’s internet regulation should look like. Since you are reading this on the internet, and probably want to continue using it, here’s a primer on this policy that will affect all of our lives.
What is net neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. For example If you start a blog or website, you can be certain that people from around the world on the internet can reach that link just as easy as going to Google or Facebook. No matter how big or small, rich or poor you are, access to your little plot of space on the internet will be the same as anyone else’s.
That’s the idea of net neutrality. Whoever gives you access to the internet a network like Airtel or MTNL should treat all traffic on the internet impartial i.e. be neutral. Anyone attempting to go to any website anywhere on the internet should be free to do so.
Here make sure of one thing that you do not mistake Net neutrality with the right to access to internet cost free. We are not asking to give the free data plans to TRAI, AIRTEL, BSNL or others to access to the internet. In India one has to pay money to access the internet, the issue here is once you have access to the internet, i.e. If you’ve paid for 1 GB of internet surfing, it shouldn’t matter if you are just looking at Wikipedia entries or watching YouTube videos or calling someone on Skype.
[pullquote-left]It is the fact that revenues of the telecom companies are getting hampered due to the advancement in technology but it is only as unfair as any industry that is hit by newer, better technologies.[/pullquote-left]
Let’s look at the generous offers from telecom companies which give you free access to Twitter or Facebook, that’s the violation of net neutrality because here it is not about what is free, it’s about what is not. Airtel or Reliance might offer Facebook to you for free but that means they’re charging you for all the other social networks out there, and it’s only possible because Facebook is a giant company that can strike a deal with them. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg could have done that when he was still in college and had just founded Facebook? If some Indian kid built a better social network than Facebook tomorrow, these offers make it almost impossible for his or her new app to succeed.
It is like a slope once you are down its hard to go back. If the traffic on the internet is not equal i.e. presently it is free access to Facebook or Twitter via Airtel or Reliance, tomorrow somewhat free services like whatsapp and skype might end up costing more if the telecom companies decides. We will be at the mercy of telecom operators in India. This was exactly the case of Airtel last year when they tried to charge higher rates for people using Skype or Viber to make internet calls. These services do not use different technology as voice call on internet uses same bandwidth to transfer the data across as when you play video games online or downloading a software.
[pullquote-right]Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.[/pullquote-right]
Now let’s have a look at the point of view of the telecom companies, according to them there is huge revenue loss for them when OTT (Over The Top applications) like Skype and whatsapp providing the free voice call services sitting on-top of existing internet cables, while telecom companies have invested millions of dollars to create the infrastructure for the voice call facility. Prima facie that seems unfair but telecom companies have built the infrastructure to sell you access to that infrastructure, not to control what you do on it. Would you find it okay to be charged more for calling your chartered accountant as opposed to calling your mom, even if they lived next door? That’s what telecom companies want to do with the internet: charge you more for different ways of using the same 1s and 0s.
In response to pressure from telcom companies and their lobby COAI, TRAI went ahead and brought up a consultation paper on:
- Should OTTS be licensed? If yes, under current rules or new ones?
- Should we leave net neutrality undecided and let the market decide its fate?
You can find the consultation paper here:http://trai.gov.in/content/news/71241_0.aspx
HERE IS THE PROCESS OF CONSULTATION
The public has been asked 20 questions based on above 2 points. You have to send mail to a TRAI email ID with answers to these questions. You can do this till April 24, 2015. Time will be provided for counter comments from April 24th to May 8th. To make sure that anti net neutrality rules aren’t formed in India, You need to send a mail to TRAI mail id [email protected] in support of net neutrality and against differential pricing/speeds
If TRAI does not get enough public mails in support of Net Neutrality, You may have different packages for accessing internet.
- 1 GB data for Rs 252 + Rs 50 for Google + Rs 25 for facebook and so on.
- 1 GB data pack would be like the base pack of your DTH.
But you will have to add packs for carrier decided pricing to be able to use all apps. Isn’t this SCARY? Its just the start! ISPs can slow down some sites on while giving faster speeds to the companies that pay them more. If you choose to stay silent today thinking that things will eventually sort out, it will not. You will have to pay for Youtube, Gaana.com etc. like TV packages. Go to change.org petition and sign up to save Internet.
Please raise your voice by signing up the petition in large numbers, tweeting about net neutrality and sending mails to TRAI before April 24th and SAVE THE INTERNET.