Why You Should Be Concerned About Net Neutrality: We Explain
Net Neutrality is back in the news. Should you be worried? Well, not really, because TRAI or the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has you covered on this.
Two years after this term first appeared – TRAI has come out with a list of recommendations around keeping the Internet free and open to all. If you’ve just got on to the internet and are wondering why you should be bothered with Net Neutrality, here’s the lowdown for you.
What is Net Neutrality?
It’s like this. Imagine your telecom operator offered you a plan, where you get unlimited internet access to just about 10 websites for a minimal monthly fee, but you had to pay extra to access any other sites. That would be unfair right?
Well, that is pretty much the debate around Net Neutrality, where everyone gets a level playing field and there is no discrimination whatsoever of one website or service over another. That does not mean internet speeds will be the same, as that is dependent on the network connectivity.
TRAI’s basic recommendation to the Department of Telecommunications is that all websites and content on the internet should be treated equally – no content should be cheaper or be easier to access than others.
That means your telecom service provider cannot take money to get into a secret deal with one site to serve it up faster to you compared to competing sites. For instance, if you can open the Flipkart app pretty quickly, but the Amazon.com app opens slowly, you would eventually start preferring Flipkart only, wouldn't you? This will not be allowed to happen.
TRAI says no one owns the internet. It should be accessible to all. But there are some exceptions.
Content Delivery Networks and specialized services don’t come under the rules of net neutrality.
So companies like Airtel and Jio, which have their own content services – music, TV etc, can offer them at discounted rates or bundle them with their services, without affecting access to the rest of the internet.
Basically, with this set of recommendations – integrated telecom players that also have their own content services are happy and regular consumers of the internet are also happy, as they can access whatever they wish to. Keep it open, keep it free. Let’s hope the Department of Telecommunications also thinks the same way.
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