Apr 16, 2015

“Net Neutrality” is creating a buzz in the market these days. Everywhere, whether it is on social media platforms, news, or someplace else, it is a topic of debate for all. Even film stars and politicians have jumped the bandwagon and have expressed their views on Net Neutrality. Most importantly, Telecom regulatory Authority of India, TRAI, which came up with a paper on this issue last month, is also looking into the issue. So what exactly is net neutrality and why does it matter?

Consider this:
In 2005, a Canadian company named Telus successfully barred it’s Internet subscribers from accessing a website designed and run by a group of employees who were on strike against their employer.

Does this seem fair or ethical?
In simple terms, net neutrality indicates that Internet service providers (ISP) should treat all data on the Internet equally. There should be no discrimination against any site, content or platform. In broader terms, Internet service providers or telecommunication agencies should not be allowed to engage in anti-competitive activities or charge different fees to the users, applications or sites that are facilitated on those networks.

Img Src: Searchenginewatch.com

Here’s another scenario:
Consider a situation where your electric company says that you must purchase a Luxury Pack in order to use your air conditioner; or you are obligated to buy additional packs to use your refigerator. It seems unfair and honestly, quite frustrating right? Net neutrality prohibits ISP’s from behaving the same way so when you are using Snapdeal for instance, an operator cannot say ‘Hi, we have partnered with Flipkart and by using Flipkart you can have unlimited net access. But we noticed that you are using Snapdeal and we have not partnered with them, so using it would result in data consumption.’
 Net Neutrality should not distinguish the way you choose to use the internet or the way you receive content on any site you choose to visit.
The subsequent snapshot gives you a rough overview of how a telecom company could hypothetically charge you in the future for different website and content access:

You definitely want to know who sparked the Net Neutrality debate in India.
Net neutrality sparked in India after Airtel announced Airtel Zero, an “open marketing platform” that allows customers to use mobile applications at no cost while charging subscribers. This is basically a collaboration between Airtel and certain other companies in which the consumers do not have to pay for the data. It means that users will be able to access those websites that have joined Airtel Zero.

                    Img Src: reappropriate.co

Why is this not good for us as consumers?
Besides the obvious concerns of upselling and content restriction, here are a few solid reasons why consumers should be in favor of net neutrality:

1. We are Forced to change brands: A lot of consumers may move to what is free rather than what they would like to use.
2. Forced to change our usage behaviour: You may not be able to share Images on WhatsApp or a YouTube video with a friend because he or she does not use that special pack.
3Privileged Treatment: ISP’s would be able to charge large companies that can afford to pay for special treatment and consequently  slow down competitor sites and content- a practice known as paid prioritization.
4Other Operator companies would be forced to do the same: If things go according to the telecommunication company, they will have the power to shape internet traffic. Similarly, cable and phone companies could carve the Internet into fast and slow lanes, which means all websites cannot be accessed at the same speed. This would destroy the open Internet.
Watch this video on the basics of this vital issue and how it affects you: 

What is the Importance of Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is tremendously important for small business owners and entrepreneurs who start their business online.  Without it, it may be possible for ISPs to charge web companies to enable faster access to their websites. In such a case, start-ups that want to create a unique identity in the online world may not be able to fulfil the ISP’s demand and ultimately their websites will operate slowly. This means bigger companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon will be able to pay more to make access to sites like YouTube and Google+ or buying goods faster for web users.

Lots of people write blogs. They will no longer be accessible for people. You and I will pay more for everything on the Internet. It’s easy to see why you should care and support Net Neutrality.
Without it, the internet will become a closed network. You have to pay extra charges for the free calls you make using services like WhatsApp, Skype and other communication services.

Eventually the load of additional amounts by ISP’s will be pushed and there could be "package plans" for consumers. Do you currently have a standard data package to access content or sites at the same bandwidth irrespective of whether it is an international website or domestic?  Without net neutrality you will only be able to access websites based in India. To access international websites, you may have to pay extra amounts. Or perhaps there could be different lanes for different types of sites or content, completely depending on how much money you are paying to the operator and what "add-on package" you have bought.

Pros of Net Neutrality in Brief

  1. Freedom and ease of doing business online
  2. Freedom of online speech
  3. Freedom to visit any Website  and access knowledge you want at the fastest browsing speed
  4. Freedom to access each site at same data cost

    Img Src: cooperpointjournal.com

How can you support Net Neutrality?
Raise your voice and stop this internet access freedom demolition. You can share your opinion on your personal social media platform to let others know about it. You can also write directly to TRAI at advqos@trai.gov.in or you can add your voice to the debate here: http://www.fcc.gov/page/fcc-establishes-new-inbox-open-internet-comments

Will TRAI accept Net Neutrality?
TRAI has released a consultation paper with 20 questions spread across 118 pages and wants you to send them an e-mail by 24th of April, 2015. In just three days, people in India have sent more than 3 lakh mails to TRAI.
Now it is your turn to contribute in the fight for net neutrality. Let us remind TRAI that their job is to protect the rights of consumers, not the profit margins of Telco’s. Let us demand access to a free, open internet.
It is very important to have net neutrality, as it gives us the right to communicate freely online, access any site, content and services and grants us the liberty and ease of doing business online.
Have you formed your own thoughts and opinions on Net Neutrality?  If so, freely share your thoughts here.

Further Reading:
What is net neutrality? Why should I care?

Popular News:
News about Net Neutrality on Times of India

Related Videos:
Net Neutrality debate video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6Is1TEAyJU
Comedian John Oliver explains Net Neutrality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=595&v=fpbOEoRrHyU

Big names who are supporting Net Neutrality:

Barak Obama
Mark Zuckerberg

Other People

More About Net Neutrality:
Facebook’s Internet.org sees defections over alleged harm to net neutrality
A growing number of internet companies operating in India are distancing themselves from Facebook's Internet.org initiative over concerns about how it could impact net neutrality in the region. http://www.zdnet.com/article/facebooks-internet-org-faces-indian-exodus/
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) on Sunday reaffirmed its support for ‘net neutrality’, but also made a strong pitch for ‘net equality’ that will enable access to Internet for a billion Indians as part of the governments digital India vision.

April 20,2015
Over 9 lakh emails have been sent to TRAI in support of net neutrality.

Net Neutrality: 10 cartoons by Aseem Trivedi explain why you should save the Internet

If you are concerned about the brewing net neutrality debate then there's some good news as 10,00,029 petitions have been mailed to TRAI via the SaveTheInternet.in petition till 23rd morning.

TRAI made all those supporters email id open for spammers! After massive public outrage on social media and its website taken down by Anonymous, the hacking group that stands for Internet freedom, it is strange to see that Trai still hasn’t taken off the email IDs.


Government Net Neutrality Report - You can make free skype,whatsapp and viber calls to abroad but not with in India, you need to pay some charges to the operator to make the call.
For more information read below -http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/net-neutrality-report-you-can-make-skype-whatsapp-calls-abroad-not-within-india-274348.html

India’s decision on Net Neutrality -
Disappointed with TRAI verdict but will keep working to deliver free Internet access: Mark Zuckerberg -


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