Our report favours none, says Net neutrality panel

Facing criticism for its stance on Internet voice calling and zero rating platforms, the government panel on Net neutrality on Friday clarified that its report neither favours any telecom services provider nor does it endorse any tariff plan.

“The major misconception after the report came out is that on zero rating … that it is something that the committee has endorsed. We have not endorsed it,” committee member V. Umashankar said.

In the report released on Thursday, the committee left the fate of controversial plans like Airtel Zero to telecom regulator TRAI, while opposing similar projects like Facebook’s

Mr. Umashankar, who is also the Joint Secretary (telecom), said the committee refrained from commenting on specific tariffs as they were subject to innovation and chances were that a new plan with certain modifications be introduced under the same tariff name.

He further explained, “Tariff plans are promoted by telecom operators, who are subject to regulatory oversight. Facebook, however, is out of our regulatory oversight … So we had to mention it separately. We have laid down the principles of Net neutrality and any tariff plan will have to be tested against those principles. That will be ex ante determination by the regulator.”

On the recommendation that apps offering domestic Internet calling be brought under the regulatory framework, Mr R.M. Agarwal, another committee member, said, “What we have said is light touch regulation … that may not necessarily lead to increase in tariffs. We don’t know yet what those regulations will be. That decision will be taken after a proper consultation process.”

Mr. Umashankar said the recommendation was given only to regulate domestic Internet telephony as they were in direct competition with services that telecos offered.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 12:54:30 PM |

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