Net Neutrality a Policy Issue, Trai Needs to Take Stand: CCI

Net Neutrality a Policy Issue, Trai Needs to Take Stand: CCI
Amid long-running debate on net neutrality, fair trade watchdog Competition Commission chairman Ashok Chawla on Wednesday said it is a policy issue and sectoral regulator Trai has to first take a stand in this regard.

He said it will look into the matter when it will come to Competition Commission of India (CCI).

"It has not come to us. We will see when it comes. This is a policy issue. The regulator (Trai) has to decide first. Based on whatever happens in terms of behaviour as in conformity and not in conformity of policy we will see and in any case if they are going to interact with us they are welcome," CCI chairman Ashok Chawla told reporters in New Delhi.

He was speaking at the sidelines of fair trade regulator annual day function.

CCI, which keeps a watch on unfair business practices, orders a probe only if there is prima-facie evidence of a violation of competition norms.

The development comes at a time when some telecom operators have entered into tie-ups for offering free access to certain mobile apps and websites. Such activities have raised concerns on net neutrality. The last refers to equal treatment for all Internet traffic.

Last month, Bharti Airtel launched Airtel Zero, an open marketing platform that allowed customers to access many mobile applications for free, with the data charges being paid by startups and large companies.

Over the past few months, operators such as Reliance Communications and Uninor have partnered Internet companies such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Wikipedia to offer free usage to consumers.

Such moves are being seen as against net neutrality.

Speaking about CCI's work, Chawla said fair trade regulator has dealt with 600 antitrust cases in the past seven years. It has also handled 475 cases of merger and acquisitions (M&A) matters in the past four years.

"We are geeting 10 getting 10 M&A cases every month," he said.

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