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Here’s what everyone is saying in TRAI’s latest Net Neutrality consultation

Last year's highly public and widely discussed TRAI consultation resulted in Internet providers being barred from charging differently for different parts of the Internet. This time around, the telecom regulator's newest consultation on Net Neutrality is significantly more business-as-usual, and much more muted. Now that the consultation has finished accepting responses and counter-responses, here are some of the most significant themes to watch out for from telecom operators, Internet companies and advocacy groups. 1. "Same service, same rules" Telecom operators have long complained that many apps like WhatsApp and Skype eat into their revenue by replacing the non-Internet access services that they charge for, like SMS and calling. Curiously, Indian telecom operators, instead of arguing that they should face less regulation, have called for these "over the top" (OTT) services to face more regulation instead. They argue that unlike so-called OTT apps, telcos face several regulatory constraints that put them in an uneven playing field. As such, they argue that there needs to be "same services, same rules", a framework where OTT apps and telcos compete fairly, without regulatory imbalance. Multiple stakeholders, such as the Broadband India Forum and Hotstar, pointed out that unlike OTT services, telecom providers held a monopoly on providing access to the Internet, mooting the argument that apps and ISPs need to be treated similarly. Broadband India Forum's curious reversal In this consultation's initial stages, the Broadband India Forum, an association of telecom operators, argued (pdf) that "OTT Communication players need to be brought under the same regulatory regime…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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