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Should India have licensing of Internet services? Net Neutrality? TRAI wants your views


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20 Questions.

The Indian telecom regulator has proposed 20 questions for your views on two basic topics: should there be licensing of Internet services, and should there be non-discrimination of Internet access via telecom operators. Download the complicated, 118 page long paper here.

This consultation has two possible implications:

First, if there is licensing of Internet services, or even some Internet services, then it will impact the ability of Internet businesses and startups to remix multiple types of services like messaging and video: a fitness application linked to a band might need a government license in order to allow a customer to message a trainer, or a separate license to offer video within the application. This is what the TRAI calls “OTT licensing”. They held a full day seminar on this issue. Read our coverage from it here.

Second, if telecom operators are allowed to discriminate between different Internet companies or types of Internet services, it will mean that some services which pay them will be faster and others slower, some might be more expensive to access and others cheaper, and some might be more visible or accessible than others. This is what Net Neutrality is about.

– An ISP in Andhra Pradesh was charging separately for P2P services. Read about it here.
– Airtel* wants to charge differently for different services, as does Uninor. Read what they’ve said here.
– Read how Telecom operators defend their attack on Net Neutrality.

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Please submit your answers to the TRAI before the 24th April, 2015 at advqos@trai.gov.in.

MediaNama is going to do the following over the next few weeks:
– Publish a simplified version of the complicated TRAI paper so that everyone can understand and participate. We’ll do this next week.
– Respond to queries regarding Net Neutrality so we can help you understand these issues better. We’ll do this next to next week.
– Publish a sample response and if possible, a response generator (we’ll need help with this) so you can submit your views to the TRAI easily.

The 20 questions:

Question 1: Is it too early to establish a regulatory framework for OTT services, since internet penetration is still evolving, access speeds are generally low and there is limited coverage of high-speed broadband in the country? Or, should some beginning be made now with a regulatory framework that could be adapted to changes in the future? Please comment with justifications.

Question 2: Should the OTT players offering communication services (voice, messaging and video call services) through applications (resident either in the country or outside) be brought under the licensing regime? Please comment with justifications.

Question 3: Is the growth of OTT impacting the traditional revenue stream of TSPs? If so, is the increase in data revenues of the TSPs sufficient to compensate for this impact? Please comment with reasons.

Question 4: Should the OTT players pay for use of the TSPs network over and above data charges paid by consumers? If yes, what pricing options can be adopted? Could such options include prices based on bandwidth consumption? Can prices be used as a means product/service differentiation? Please comment with justifications.

Question 5: Do you agree that imbalances exist in the regulatory environment in the operation of OTT players? If so, what should be the framework to address these issues? How can the prevailing laws and regulations be applied to OTT players (who operate in the virtual world) and compliance enforced? What could be the impact on the economy? Please comment with justifications.

Question 6: How should the security concerns be addressed with regard to OTT players providing communication services? What security conditions such as maintaining data records, logs etc. need to be mandated for such OTT players? And, how can compliance with these conditions be ensured if the applications of such OTT players reside outside the country? Please comment with justifications.

Question 7: How should the OTT players offering app services ensure security, safety and privacy of the consumer? How should they ensure protection of consumer interest? Please comment with justifications.

Question 8: In what manner can the proposals for a regulatory framework for OTTs in India draw from those of ETNO, referred to in para 4.23 or the best practices summarised in para 4.29? And, what practices should be proscribed by regulatory fiat? Please comment with justifications.

Question 9: What are your views on net-neutrality in the Indian context? How should the various principles discussed in para 5.47 be dealt with? Please comment with justifications.

Question 10: What forms of discrimination or traffic management practices are reasonable and consistent with a pragmatic approach? What should or can be permitted? Please comment with justifications.

Question 11: Should the TSPs be mandated to publish various traffic management techniques used for different OTT applications? Is this a sufficient condition to ensure transparency and a fair regulatory regime?

Question 12: How should a conducive and balanced environment be created such that TSPs are able to invest in network infrastructure and CAPs are able to innovate and grow? Who should bear the network upgradation costs? Please comment with justifications

Question 13: Should TSPs be allowed to implement non-price based discrimination of services? If so, under what circumstances are such practices acceptable? What restrictions, if any, need to be placed so that such measures are not abused? What measures should be adopted to ensure transparency to consumers? Please comment with justifications.

Question 14: Is there a justification for allowing differential pricing for data access and OTT communication services? If so, what changes need to be brought about in the present tariff and regulatory framework for telecommunication services in the country? Please comment with justifications.

Question 15: Should OTT communication service players be treated as Bulk User of Telecom Services (BuTS)? How should the framework be structured to prevent any discrimination and protect stakeholder interest? Please comment with justification.

Question 16: What framework should be adopted to encourage India-specific OTT apps? Please comment with justifications.

Question 17: If the OTT communication service players are to be licensed, should they be categorised as ASP or CSP? If so, what should be the framework? Please comment with justifications.

Question 18: Is there a need to regulate subscription charges for OTT communication services? Please comment with justifications.

Question 19: What steps should be taken by the Government for regulation of non-communication OTT players? Please comment with justifications.

Question 20: Are there any other issues that have a bearing on the subject discussed?

Image Credit: Flickr user Stephen Melkisethian

Disclosure: Airtel is an advertiser with MediaNama

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  • Grimmjow

    They are all very valid questions regarding developing a framework, regulation (or lack of it), imbalance, and the security and consumer protection. At the very least, i’d give some credit to TRAI for asking views from the common man. I look forward to Medianama’s views as every answer has a bearing on the other questions.

    • Sanjeev jaiswal

      Net azadi mere country k liye bahut jaroori hai badi muskil se tarakki k raste pe mera desh aage aa raha hai net azadi se coal nilami ki roop rekha aaj public k saamne aa saka hai har naagarik ko kahane ki aazadi ko ab rokana bilkul theek nahi hoga jai hind jai bharat jai ho internet ki publick me khatir des ki aam janta ka sawal haiiiii.

  • We want net neutrality, and for the govt. to leave OTT players alone. As far as the government is concerned, they do not exist. We can’t have the Indian government bothering about something like WhatsApp.

    • Karan Shah

      millions of people are homeless, so many poor, but oh my people using whatsapp to forward jokes, THAT IS BLASPHEMY!!

  • Karan Shah

    please publish a sample response which will promote net neutrality and be correct. this really is very worrying

    • AlekhyaDas

      Yup!

  • AlekhyaDas

    Some sample response answers please.

  • Rishabh Arora

    Seriously? Sample Answers? For once, can people grow up and not treat this like a board exam? Do your research and come up with your own answers. It really isn’t that hard folks

    • cloot

      It seems like TRAI is asking the users to draft the whole framework themselves.These are not aye/nay questions which would have encouraged participation. Its a mammoth task, and one which will garner a much more factitious and weak response.Its better to put our weight behind clear and well-reasoned stand. Bear in mind that these question have already been simplified to make them easier to understand.

      • Grimmjow

        “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. the common man has often asked to be consulted, well here it is. how can questions be simple yes/no when they are dealing with a complex scenario?

      • Sudharsan R

        TRAI is a handicapped department in India wich never looks forward any of the consumer/public interest. seems TRAI just wants to make heavy kickbacks from these cooperates.

  • Anonymous

    Dear TRAI,
    Dont do anything. Dont touch anything. Dont license anything. Dont even breathe. Dont fix something that isnt broken – Internet works fine dont mess with it.

    Thank You.

  • Abhishek

    Dear TRAI,
    Dont do anything. Dont touch anything. Dont license anything. Dont even breathe. Dont fix something that isnt broken – Internet works fine dont mess with it.

    Please. Please just dont!

  • Mukesh Naraniya

    Yeah it works fine don’t interupt, at least let people have their opinion expressed.

  • Abhishek Prusty

    Sadly This Country lacks feasibility policy. What ever people say TRAI won’t listen as they are not controlled by people rather by politician and government people who don’t need internet , still get high speed free one in their office. LOGIC Level :- Over Rated !

  • “Publish a sample response and if possible, a response generator (we’ll need help with this) so you can submit your views to the TRAI easily.”

    I can help you with that. Let me know.

  • Amarpreet Singh

    indian isp are loosers always looting money and so are indian politicians all they want is to loot our hard earned money

  • Anon Omus

    I’ll be following this story as it develops. I’d appreciate simplification of the government documents as chances are the general public is not expert in the legalese. Thanks, Medianama!

  • Neutral Web

    ‘Protect Net Neutrality in India’: Refers to coverage by MediaNama in the description.

    protect-net-neutrality-in-india

  • Mnv Sachdeva

    if CSPs do not charge for the usage of OTT apps than soon they’ll seize to exist, as they will be mere bandwidth providers and no one would use their comm. services (most of us hardly send SMS these days, and with call functionality introduced with the newer apps, there will no calls either) – something that is not scalable to the business model with which CSPs were formed. There will be new subscription models, this is just the start – not hurting neutrality in any way, take this in the way that you bought a house and the world lives inside it with you without paying any rent. #airtel #vodafone its ok!

    • Aravind

      What’s wrong with being a “mere” bandwidth provider? AFAIK they are not providing anyone bandwidth for free. They can charge for bandwidth what it costs to provide it.

      Internet is a utility, just like voice. It does not matter whether I make a phone call to talk to my mother or order a pizza. I pay by the minute and maybe by distance. What I am talking about is not the phone company’s business.

      What they are proposing now is akin to blocking calls to pizza restaurants unless I pay more or the pizza guys pay them to avoid being blocked. This is purely abusing their community-given telecom licenses to shake down other businesses.

      As a consumer when I pay for internet access I demand access to the entire internet. I do not want one plan in which I cannot access WhatsApp and another plan in which I cannot access YouTube.

      They can make plans based on speed and data caps… not by slicing the internet into “bundles” of “services” where new, innovative web services created by the quintessential “two guys in a garage”, that do not have pre-existing deals with these behemoths, will remain inaccessible to the public and never see light of day.

      Let us be clear: ISPs carry data to and from the internet backbone, for which we pay data charges. They do not provide the content – OTT apps do. When they are taking money from me for carrying data from the internet to me, they have no claim whatsoever on the OTT providers’ pie.

      To return to my analogy, the phone company cannot offer a “phone” plan and a more expensive “phone + pizza” plan unless they are the ones kneading the dough, baking the pies and driving the scooters.

  • Sudharsan R

    Telecom players business is only to provide fair and neutral internet they should not violate net neutrality by blocking and throttling speeds of websites and applications.What telecom players are now are greedy and want to make or cheat more money above thier limits from public / consumers. Purly a daylight robbery attempt by telecom players.

  • Harshit Agarwal

    If you explain the questions in a new article, it would be great!

  • max

    Suggested answers to TRAI’s questions. Please do send in the answers by April 24nd

    http://bit.ly/1c4Pty2

    • Arjun Ratna

      I know that youre already know this and Ive posted it above but still for you max “EVERYONE please Log into http://www.savetheinternet.in made with love by People just like you and me then paste the 20 Answers with the 20 questions of these Corrupt TRAI proposals and then paste it in your personal text saver and then open your E-MAIL and press your compose box and paste the same there and IMMEDIATELY Send it to advqos@trai.gov.in BEFORE DEADLINE 24 Apr 15 OR ELSE GET READY TO BE RIPPED OFF BY THESE LOBBYING TELECOM COMPANIES LIKE AIRTEL etc., PLEASE DO IT FAST”

  • Arjun Ratna

    EVERYONE please Log into http://www.savetheinternet.in made with love by People just like you and me then paste the 20 Answers with the 20 questions of these Corrupt TRAI proposals and then paste it in your personal text saver and then open your E-MAIL and press your compose box and paste the same there and IMMEDIATELY Send it to advqos@trai.gov.in BEFORE DEADLINE 24 Apr 15 OR ELSE GET READY TO BE RIPPED OFF BY THESE LOBBYING TELECOM COMPANIES LIKE AIRTEL etc., PLEASE DO IT FAST

  • Sethuraman Appakutty

    Another T20!!! no comments no justifications Be neutral

  • SUPPORT NET NEUTRALITY HERE

    LETS BE TOGETHER AND FIGHT FOR NET NEUTRALITY

    http://fizzip.com/we-are-with-net-neutrality-fizzip-com/