TRAI backs Net neutrality

To monitor and investigate whether service providers are adhering to the rules, the regulator also suggested that a multi-stakeholder body be set up, led by industry, and comprising members representing different telecom and Internet service providers, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.

The regulator explicitly stated that all content should be available to consumers without any discrimination or restriction. "It would also not restrict adoption of reasonable traffic management practices by the service provider", Trai added. However, it allowed certain exemptions for specialised services which are optimised for specific content and are not internet services.

The much-awaited recommendations come after TRAI floated a consultation paper on the topic inviting views on net neutrality in January.

TRAI's recommendation clearly backs the idea of treating the internet as an essential resource that should be provided to all without any discrimination.

However, this is not the first time that TRAI has ruled in favour of upholding the ideals of a free and open internet.

If the government accepts the proposal, ISPs will not be able to block or throttle any web traffic or offer fast lanes for content providers who pay for the facility.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) which has been debating the hot issue of net neutrality for almost two years, said in its recommendations to the telecom department to amend license terms to prevent any kind of discrimination on internet services based on content, apps or any other service or data that travels on the internet. Even as telecom regulators around the globe are pushing the world towards a non-neutral internet, TRAI has been doing its bit to keep the internet free of discriminatory practices.

As Access Now - a transparency and internet access advocacy platform - explains, the ball is now in the government's court.

India's Net Neutrality advocates have lauded the regulators' recommendations.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's headquarters in New Delhi.

While these recommendations (in particular the license amendments) will only come into force if the Department of Telecommunications decides to implement them, TRAI quietly notes that pending consideration, it may regulate the "manner in which the current licensing requirement of unrestricted access to all content on the Internet is implemented and enforced".