Current Affairs

Dear Indians, fight for the Net Neutrality before it is too late

“IMPORTANT MESSAGE! DO NOT NEGLECT THIS. WE HAVE TO TAKE THE VITAL STEP NOW TO SAVE THE INTERNET.”

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There is a lot of buzz on the internet about the Net Neutrality and the implications of its violation. If you are still wondering, what is it? Here is what Wikipedia says about it-

Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on theInternet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

Examples of net neutrality violations include when the Internet service provider Comcast intentionally slowed peer-to-peer communications. In 2007, one other company was using deep packet inspection to discriminate against peer-to-peer, file transfer protocol, and online games, instituting a cell-phone-style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom value-added services, and bundling.

Did not understand it? Want more explanation, then watch this video

Still confused? Then watch this video which is a watered down analogy to show some of the implications when the same is applied to our electrical usage at home

Ok! So now you must have got a clear cut idea. So, basically net neutrality means

  • No discrimination in terms of speed.
  • No discrimination in terms of access.
  • No discrimination in terms of cost.

Every websites/apps/startups should get a level playing field in terms of internet service. If there is any violation of net neutrality, then there is a possibility that the company with deeper pockets will rule the business by killing other competitors. Fairly, there must be competition in terms of service/product and not in terms that some services are free to access and you have to pay for others because your Internet Service Provider has decided to do so.

Had there been any previous attempts anywhere in the World?
Yes, there have been many attempts and they are still happening. Previously, telecom companies in USA attempted to breach, but it failed due to the massive protests by the people including the support from President Obama. So, now it is illegal there.

Why do they violate after all?
It all started because the telecom companies started to think that the internet based service companies are making huge profits because  of them, so they should get a share in that profit. So they started to charge the services like Whatsapp, Skype, Viber call etc.

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What is wrong in this?
Because, it is like paying to the electricity pole just because it connects the power to your house. Also, there are high chances of partiality because these telecom operators are also in the game of business, for example- Airtel may charge you for using Whatsapp messenger, but Hike messenger will be free because it is owned by Airtel group. But in this game, the companies with more money will get through by striking a deal with the telcos. But it is the start-ups and small scale businesses which will be denied the fair ground. You will get Google search not bing, cricbuzz not cricinfo, OLX not Quikr etc.

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Internet.org by Facebook is a good initiative to provide free internet to the people. Does it violate rules?
Internet.org is not free internet actually. It is Facebook+ few sites. So here, Facebook is a king. It acts like a gateway and it decides, what posts you should see and what you should not.

Any examples of violations in India?
Airtel tried to charge for VOIP services like Viber, Skype which they took back after the public reaction. Facebook usage is free with Reliance, Vodafone in some packs. Already prepaid plans with Whatsapp pack are in the market. Airtel launched Airtel Zero plan (Airtel Zero is an open marketing platform that allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free while the data charges will be paid by the application providers.). Flipkart supported this plan and because of which it had to face the ire of net neutrality defenders, they gave 1 star ratings to the android/ios applications of the Flip-kart. Read here.

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Why this sudden support for net neutrality?
Because. the Cellular Operators Association of India, a telecom lobby which includes the largest telecom operators in India (Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular), and has inducted Google and Facebook as members in the last one year, has created a paper that calls for regulation of Internet (OTT) services and is influencing TRAI to implement it.

This infographic image will explain to you in a better way

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The Indian Telecom Regulator, TRAI has begun a consultation process and has asked for public opinion on this matter with 20 questions (Download it here). For which we MUST REPLY otherwise the decision may go in the favor of Telecom companies because it is drafted in such a way.

So, what should we do?

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  • Tell this news to as many people as possible, who use internet.
  • Sign this petition so that we let TRAI know that we all stand together against these big corporate giants and their vested interests.
  • As I have mentioned earlier, The Indian telecom regulator has proposed 20 questions for your views on two basic topics: should there be licensing of Internet services, and should there be non-discrimination of Internet access via telecom operators. It may look complex, but here is a simplified questionnaire by the Medianama, please go through it carefully and submit your answers to the TRAI before the 24th April, 2015 at [email protected].
  • If you are finding it difficult, just go to savetheinternet.in . You may choose to submit the response they have generated or edit the responses and submit your own version.
  • Write directly to TRAI at “[email protected]“. The author of TRAI’s paper may be biased – but it is a government body after all – and they have to listen to you. Here’s one suggested text of what you can mail them – do modify at will:

    Dear TRAI, I am writing to express my concern against the actions that telecom carriers are taking to restrict fair access to the internet (Net Neutrality). I believe the internet is a vital resource – it helps me communicate, work, and thrive as a citizen. If telecom operators can discriminate internet traffic on the basis of which services pay the most, we are allowing telcos control over a vital and necessary technological resource. By doing so we allow them to define what information we can view; what entertainment we can access; and how companies can innovate.

    This is completely unfair and harms India’s long term role in the global market. I strongly believe the growth of telecoms and the well-being of the internet can go hand-in-hand. I’m asking for a framework to ensure long term and fair access for all services regardless of size. I want my generation and those that come after me to have unfettered access to the Internet, with no telcos or ISPs having the ability to charge for specific services I use on top of it. Please understand that the internet is an important resource and vital to me and to every other Indian citizen. I would like to see it kept free and protected under Net Neutrality to ensure fair and equal access for all and forever. Regards, {Your Name}

  • Join Medianama in their efforts to create responses, see  TRAI’s Internet Licensing and Net Neutrality Consultation Paper: Simpler, Shorter Version
  • Don’t let @airtelindia @RelianceMobile @VodafoneIN deny EQUALITY.
  • Write to the people you know in the Government (like MPs, Ministers, Officers etc), PM Narendra Modi, Telecom Minister Shri Ravishankar Prasad and force them to support net neutrality.
  • Tweet and put the status in support of net neutrality, share this article as much as possible to create awareness of this issue before 24th April and make your voice heard.

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About the author

Aditya Kalluraya

Aditya Kalluraya

Entrepreneur. Driven by a passion for creating platforms for people to share their opinions, experiences. A student of life, learning new things by choice. Founder - Readoo, Filmypundit, Southcanara.in and, Filmypundit.

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