Internet users have sent more than 1.5 lakh emails over the weekend to TRAI asking to protect network neutrality in the country.
Netizens are unhappy with the telecom companies’ proposal to charge users to access various internet services which is likely to affect the new start up internet business. Telecom companies which had participated in the spectrum auction are worried about dip in their revenue after the onset of over the top (OTT) service providers like WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and Hike which are having a free run over their network. According to them, the popularity of instant messaging has already resulted into the downfall of text messaging services. Even though companies are earning money through data plans but it won’t be sufficient for them to recover the investments made by them for purchasing additional spectrum.
TRAI published a consultation paper on “Regulatory Framework for Over-The-Top (OTT) Services”, where in they have put 20 solid questions infront of the general public, and sought their views on licenses and Net Neutrality. Internet users have already sent more than 1.5 lakh emails over the weekend to the telecom regulator asking to protect network neutrality in the country.
At nearly 10 emails a minute, the pace of such emails have touched record speed flooding the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s inbox. There has been a huge debate over the net neutrality issue as charging extra fees from customers for using internet will only halt the mediums growth. The move will impact the NDA government’s Digital India programme as it will affect the growth of small technology start-ups as the bigger companies will have a monopoly over the internet. The larger technology companies wants to divert the internet traffic to their website thereby affecting their smaller counterparts.
When AV spoke to Archana Khandagale about the telecom companies proposal to charge users for OTT applications they said, “If such a practice is started then people will stop using Whatsapp, Wechat, Viber, facebook, skype on mobile. The telecom companies should not charge customers for using this service.”
“Most of the users will start looking for other alternatives to communicate with their friends. Whatsapp, Viber, Skype had become popular as no individual charges were required for accessing them except a data plan. If companies start charging people for using these applications then only the rich may be able to afford them” said Akshita Naik.
“Right now I am free to use whichever applications I want by paying a one- time recharge fees. But if companies start charging me for using individual net packs then it will only restrict my internet usage” said Rohini Joshi.
According to AIB whose video on net neutrality has gone viral, more than one lakh emails have been sent to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) through the website savetheinternet.in. This is in response to the regulator’s call for public consultation.
The objective of this consultation paper, the regulator said, was to analyse the implications of the growth of OTTs and consider whether or not changes were required in the current regulatory framework. It said, “The (SMS) messaging traffic fell from 5,346 million in June 2013 to 4,367 million in June 2014, a decline of 18.3 per cent. This decrease can be attributed almost entirely to an increase in traffic of OTT messaging apps.”
What is Net Neutrality:
Net neutrality is one of the biggest issue debated globally by the telecom regulators and TRAI is also in the process of finalising what will be a landmark recommendation for Indian telecom.
The important aspects of Net neutrality are:
- Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source.
- The Internet service provider from whom you buy your internet pack, should not under any circumstance be able to control how exactly you use it and it’s upto you how you use the data.
- All websites can co-exist without hampering others and all websites are accessible at the same speed and no particular website of application is favoured.
- All web sites and content creators are treated equal, and you don’t have to pay extra for faster Internet speed to a particular site/service.