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TRAI suggestions on Net Neutrality draw mixed reaction from industry

Author: IANS/Wednesday, November 29, 2017/Categories: IT & ITeS

TRAI suggestions on Net Neutrality draw mixed reaction from industry

New Delhi - Industry stakeholders gave a mixed reaction to the telecom regulator Trai's recommendations on Net Neutrality (NN), with some terming the recommendations as "progressive" and "pragmatic" and others finding them "a bit simplistic in light of increasing complexity in the economics of Internet".

According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)'s recommendations are progressive and in line with the debates in the industry and user groups that had been raging for the last two years.

"For the industry, the recommendations are pragmatic in the sense that it recognises the requirements of expansion of digital services in the country, when it makes reasonable exceptions for specialised services, reasonable traffic management practices or fulfilling international treaty agreements," IAMAI said in a statement.

"Special provisions for IoT (Internet of Things), specialised services and CDNs (content distribution network) reflect it's a forward looking recommendation that takes into account the needs of the foreseeable future," IAMAI added.

IAMAI maintained that the TRAI provisions were also conducive for nurturing the start up ecosystem in the country, and would give a boost to improve ease of doing business, aiding in inviting investments in digital businesses in the country.

Indian IT industry apex body Nasscom said: "The recommendations are completely consistent with the basic construct of Nasscom recommendations calling for unrestrained and unimpeded access to all lawful content and services subject to national regulations related to security and privacy, and preventing service providers leveraging their exclusive control over access infrastructure to speed up, slow down or selectively enable or prevent access to certain content."

TRAI on Tuesday came out with its much-awaited recommendations on Net Neutrality, holding that Internet services should be non-discriminatory and also suggesting that the government set up a body to monitor violations.

"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, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment," a release from the sector regulator said.

It also said the scope of the proposed principles on non-discriminatory treatment should apply specifically to "Internet Access Services", which are generally available to the public.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), however, expressed disappointment that the authority did not adopt the industry recommendation to have a wider approach to Net Neutrality.

"Inclusion of IoT remains a huge concern, and we will need to look closely at this. A committee to review and decide on network management violations is unnecessarily bureaucratic, and not in keeping with light-touch regulation or the ease of doing business," said the COAI.

"Moreover at a time, when globally countries are adopting a more market-oriented and market-driven approach to NN in order to not stifle development, innovation, proliferation and growth of the Internet, we believe TRAI should have adopted a light-touch approach to NN," it added.

Research and advisory firm Gartner said a little more analysis of how TRAI saw the future of communication and content and how the industry should evolve would have helped.

"The recommendations tend to be a bit simplistic, when you see it in light of increasing complexity in the economics of Internet. While protecting democratic values, there is a need to create incentives for investors to invest in infrastructure," the advisory firm said.

"This is particularly important when the focus has to be on innovation to find alternate, even superior mechanisms of communication," it added.

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