Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that the government has set up a six-member committee comprising Telecom Ministry officials to examine various aspects of Net neutrality. Mr Prasad, who has in the past backed Net neutrality, said the panel would submit its report by the second week of May.
“Internet to become entirely global should have a link to local and when we talk of digital inclusion it must be available to the underprivileged and on the margins,” Mr. Prasad said.
While the debate on Net neutrality has been going on at the global level for a long time, in India it was triggered when the country’s largest operator Airtel in December announced plans to start charging customers for VoIP services, such as Skype and Viber.
The debate gained national momentum when telecom regulator TRAI came out with a consultation paper inviting user comments on the subject. In reply to this, over one lakh emails were sent to the authority through the website savetheinternet.in.
People from all sections of society, including politicians, corporate leaders and actors, have come out in support of the campaign.
Topics such as #SavetheInternet, #Netneutrality have been trending on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Airtel recently announced another initiative, Airtel Zero, an open marketing platform that allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free, with the data charges being paid by start-ups and large companies. This too is considered to be against the principle of Net neutrality.
In fact, Flipkart CEO Sachin Bansal received a lot of flak for supporting Airtel Zero on Twitter. He later clarified that he is not against Net neutrality. Comedy group AIB too joined the cause.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted: “I support Net Neutrality and had asked question in Rajya Sabha. Answer— GOI considering! Consider? Just do it!”