Trai Floats New Net Neutrality Consultation Paper

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Trai Floats New Net Neutrality Consultation Paper
Amid debate over zero-rating plans and telecom firms offering discounted tariffs for accessing certain websites, Trai Wednesday came out with a consultation paper seeking views if such differential pricing should be allowed.

Trai has asked stakeholders as to what steps should be taken to ensure principles of non-discrimination, transparency, affordable Internet access, competition, market entry and innovation are adhered to, in case differential pricing is allowed.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said some plans introduced in the recent past amount to differential pricing that offer zero or discounted tariffs to certain content of select websites or applications or platforms.

Activists have said the principle of Net neutrality is against any priority being accorded to an entity in Internet traffic flow on account of payments to service providers like telecom companies.

Meanwhile, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Parliament Wednesday that the government will take a final view on the issue of Net neutrality after Trai submits its recommendations on the matter.

According to a Trai official, some of the operators are offering plans where they give discounted tariffs to access certain applications like WhatsApp, Facebook and the like, and there are certain platforms that allow access to certain websites free of cost.

Airtel Zero is an open marketing platform that lets customers access a variety of mobile applications for free, with data charges being paid by startups and large firms.

Similarly, Facebook's allows access to certain websites without mobile data charges. Trai said the objective of offering such schemes is claimed to be the desire of various service, content or platform providers to enable users, especially the poor, to access certain content on the Internet free of charge.

The stakeholders can send back their comments on the consultation paper by December 30 and counter comments by January 7.


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