The phrase 'net neutrality' has been in the news for some time and people are already debating its merits and demerits. Here are a few basic things you need to know about the issue.
What’s the concept?
Net neutrality implies that all internet-based sites and services should be treated equally, without any difference in terms of speed and cost of access. It is based on the concept that there are no specific rules, but internet service providers should follow the same principle.
What’s the issue with it?
In January, telecom operators asked the govt to bring over-the-top (OTT) players like Skype, WhatsApp and Viber under regulation, as these were making a dent in their revenues
Bharti Airtel came up with a plan to charge separately for internet-based voice calls provided by OTT players. There was huge public outcry in social media against such charges
After a month, the department of telecommunications formed a committee to examine the economic impact of implementing the net-neutrality principle on the telecom sector
In the first week of April, Airtel launched ‘Zero’, a plan under which 150 start-ups would join a Bharti Airtel platform where e-commerce and start-ups would pay Airtel so that users could access the internet for free
ALSO READ: DoT sets up committee for net neutrality
Experts argued that ‘Zero’ went against the principle of net neutrality that required all devices to be standardised and offered at the same price
Airtel said it was a baseless argument and the platform did not differentiate among internet-based sites or services
Following the furore, e-commerce giant Flipkart on Tuesday pulled out of talks to join Bharti’s ‘Zero’ platform
Why is it in the news?
Within 24 hours, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) received more than 27,000 emails through savetheinternet.in, calling for public consultation on the issue. An online petition on change.org received nearly 150,000 endorsements to the idea that the government act against violation of net neutrality for corporate interests
If web-based companies pay an internet service provider (ISP) — for example, if Facebook pays an ISP so that users can access the social networking site for free — it will use up more internet bandwidth, thereby curtailing access to other sites or information. This might lead to discrimination of sorts and go against the concept of net neutrality
What would be the extreme?
If every firm pays ISPs for faster or easier accessibility — for corporate interests — the idea of accessing any information on internet, whether owned or published by an individual or a company, might slowly wane and certain web-based companies might monopolise the internet
Who are the supporters?
Many renowned individuals and websites have come in support of net neutrality. Among others, the controversial comedy group AIB came out with a video to support net neutrality and garnered more than one million views through viral sharing on social networking sites