The Department of Telecom (DoT) panel has discovered, how to treat a huge debating issue like net neutrality. The panel has reported that it is strictly against the projects like ‘internet.org’. It is, however, further claimed by DoT that the panel will allow the plans like Airtel Zero, with prior clearance from TRAI.
Sources, pointing towards the Facebook and Reliance’s internet.org plan in India, revealed that DoT will strictly oppose the collaboration between the content providers and the telcos “that enable such gate-keeping role to be played by any entity.”
The Telecom Minister Ravishankar Prasad has asked DoT to form a panel on net neutrality and generate a report that include the recommendation of the committee on the issue.
The net neutrality issue implies equal treatment be assigned to all Internet traffic and no privileges should be awarded to any person, any company or any entity in exchange for payments or any other criteria.
Also, the Internet neutrality says that no company, government organization or Internet service provider should treat the Internet unequally, without any discrimination in the data usage related to different entities such as apps, websites, content, platform and more.
Internet.org is a Facebook’s plan in association with Reliance that allows access to the Reliance consumers only. What one can observe it like to use the services under the noble umbrella of the Internet.org, user need to be the part of Reliance network.
The project has been earlier criticised for violating net neutrality and favoring the Facebook’s services over its rivals. Meanwhile, several forums have supported the plan as they say it is a pro-Internet access, and hence it doesn’t violate the principles.
The panel, supporting the zero-rating platforms like Airtel Zero plan, said that telcos should take prior permission from TRAI to introduce it, or DoT will take action against them if they found violating the net neutrality.
Showing concern about the issue, Facebook’s spokesperson said that DoT hasn’t replied to the email query that was sent on behalf of the firm. They aren’t in a position to comment on the matter as they don’t have DoT panel findings, he further said.
The Dot Panel has noted that until April 2015, Internet.org was providing RCom subscribers a free access to the only a few websites and Facebook’s was seen as a door guard, which determines the list of sites. This was perceived as violating net neutrality.
Later on May 2015, due to a massive criticism, Facebook opened the project for other websites that meet certain predefined criteria.
The DoT panel have to produce and submit a report to Telecom Minister that includes their recommendations about the Internet.org plan and the other large organisations in the market that have started creating a closed ecosystems to make profit in a long run.
The sources also suggest that the large organisations have their business model that will help these firms to increase their user base and generate a significant amount of revenue. However, these initiatives were found that it will conflict the net-neutrality principles.
The committee, therefore, has recommended that the content and application providers will not be permitted to act as a guard that decides who is getting in and who’s not. Meanwhile, it allows Airtel to execute its Zero plan after the mobile operator has compared it with the toll-free calls. Also, it says that before launching a plan like Airtel Zero the telcos should take prior permission from TRAI. Otherwise, they may be slapped with a heavy fine for breaking the net neutrality.
The panel has proposed “ex-post regulation” and “ex-ante determination” models that will deal with tariff plans including zero rating.