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Net Neutrality: Trai issues consultation on traffic management

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Net Neutrality, Trai, traffic management, DoT, traffic management practices, Airtel Zero, Facebook’s Internet.OrgTrai in its recommendations had said telcos should define their traffic management practices (TMPs) but DoT differed with regulator and instead said it will define the TMPs.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper to define traffic management practices adopted by telecom operators in the backdrop of net neutrality. The regulator had released its recommendations on net neutrality in November 2017 which barred discrimination in internet access based on content. The discrimination of content include practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content.

The government had accepted most of the recommendations of Trai, and on July 31, 2018, issued principle directives on net neutrality. Further, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) amended licence conditions for service providers and introduced relevant requirements to conform to the principles of net neutrality.

Trai in its recommendations had said telcos should define their traffic management practices (TMPs) but DoT differed with regulator and instead said it will define the TMPs. For this, it sought the recommendations of Trai. The DoT also asked Trai to define the role and composition of a multi stakeholder body that will monitor net neutrality.

In the paper, which has a list of 8 questions, Trai wants to know what are the usual practices adopted by telcos to manage traffic. “Out of these practices, which ones can be considered as reasonable from perspective of net neutrality,” Trai seeks to know. Also the regulator needs to know what kind of set up is required to detect violations of net neutrality, whether it should be crowd source based, sample field measurements, probe based, etc. The regulator also wants to seek comments of stakeholders regarding composition of the multi-stake holder body.
Stakeholders can send the views till January 30.

Globally, there have been widespread concerns on potential for discriminatory treatment of online traffic by the entities that control access to the internet. These concerns regarding non-discriminatory access have become the centre of a global policy debate, often referred to as the debate on ‘net neutrality’. Trai had earlier barred platforms like Facebook’s Internet.Org and Airtel Zero which allowed free access to select websites, to check ‘gate-keeping’ in cyber space.

—with inputs from PTI

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