What is Net neutrality?
What is net neutrality in lay man’s language?
The concept of net neutrality is neither new nor originated nor limited to the Internet.
Think of electric network grid. We all get access to the same electricity, irrespective of what we plug in our electrical outlets at home.The fundamental rule behind neutrality indicates that there should not be discrimination between devices we plug in hence all devices work equally well.
Similarly, all messages transmitted through the internet must be in the same order in which they were received and cannot be discriminated.
Definition of Net Neutrality
Net neutrality means broadband network providers remain neutral to the information(data) traveling through their network. They are completely debarred to rank data / information traveling through their network.
Now see the simple example of website A and website B.
According to net neutrality, both entities would pay requisite charges to the Telco and the data from the website A will make the same path as one from the website B, without any roadblocks or shortcuts.
However, without a net neutrality, network providers can discriminate and decide the speed and quality of transmitted data.
The net neutrality means non-discriminatory net availability without differential tariffs, where all companies, big or small, have a level-playing field and consumers are not compartmentalized or discriminated
Who coined this word?
The net neutrality term was coined by Mr. Tim Wu an American academician in 2010.
He employed this term in his paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination.
later on he propagated this concept, which became the major part of Federal Net Neutrality rule in the USA.
Violations of net neutrality are rampant by Telcos in India.Neither TRAI(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) guidelines for the Unified Access Service license which promotes net neutrality,nor IT (The Information Technology) Act, 2000 prohibits telecoms/ISPs to violate net neutrality.
As of now, there is no law regarding net neutrality in India, which clearly state that all Internet users are treated equally and without discrimination by Telcos/Isp,irrespective of content, site, platform, application, accessing device, or mode of communication employed by net user.
Genesis of current debate
The exponential growth of social media savvies smartphone users have converted the internet into basic necessity and means of communication and empowerment of citizens.
According to some estimate India has 24.31 crore Internet users, of which 17.30 crore are mobile Internet users, includes 11.20 crore Facebook users, 7 crore WhatsApp users and 2.2 crore Twitter user.
Taking the advantages of phenomenal technological revolution in India and in the guise of expansion of network, Telcos/Internet Service Providers are attempting to breach net neutrality through licensing or fixing discriminatory prices of Internet applications and web services.
Rather than issuing a directive under section 25 of the TRAI Act in the public interest against errant telcos for violating net neutrality TRAI has published consultation paper, which has biased against net neutrality in favour of telcos.
Any attempts to compromise net neutrality is only frontal attack on freedom of choice for net users but also attempt to put roadblocks in the onward march of a digitally empowered India.
Any attempt to dilute net neutrality by imposing tax on OTT(Over the top)services or revenue sharing with government or with ISP/Telco will be detrimental to the digitized empowered citizen movement.
Any attempt to allow ISP and Telcos to levy interconnect charges for data services through licensing or fixing discriminatory prices of Internet applications and web services will violate freedom of choices for net users.
We must have clear and enforceable net neutrality law for empowerment of India.