Any one who is keenly following the happenings in the nation would have come across the term Net Neutrality by now. In this post l am attempting to speak about what net neutrality is and how it impacts our lives.
What is Net Neutrality ?
When I am an ISP provider and I am giving equal bandwidth to all the websites and am charging the same amount irrespective of the sites browsed by the consumer I am being net neutral. In short I am not favoring any website here.
What is the Problem now ?
As such we donot have any laws on Net Neutrality in the country right now. Recently TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has put up a consultation paper for the regulatory framework of Over The Top services. Here Over The Top services can be Skype, Viber, WhatsAPP, AMAZON , Flipkart or any other gaming site. All the messaging calling online shopping and gaming sites are placed in this category. The government is looking for solutions and suggestions on the subject.
The telecom operators who are giving us the internet now want make money either by charging us or charging the companies that are Over The Top service providers. In return these Over The Top service providers might get some preferential treatment from the telecom companies . (Who are also the ISP’s in many cases.) The ones who pay the telecom companies might get high bandwidth and other perks that would ensure that their profits are on the upward curve.
So What’s the big Deal ?
It is a big deal, this affects innovation and start ups. Whatsapp was a startup that changed the world. People with deep pockets can just make sure that the smaller players donot even get the minimal target audience even to survive. As a consumer our choice gets affected and we are supposed to get stuck with a limited set of choices. A rich and powerful baron can effectively ensure that anything that is against his interest is subdued and cannot be heard in the virtual space.
This also gives the telecom companies an unfair advantage, some of these companies are already against free messaging and calling services. (Whatsapp, viber etc .) Once the net neutrality is gone these companies might want to make it even tough for these free messaging and internet calling companies to do business.
From the food to you order to the news you read on Internet, everything, everything can be controlled once the net neutrality is gone. Hence net neutrality is very much essential. Spread the awareness and ensure that this message reaches TRAI . Since TRAI is still looking for solutions and suggestions I believe that our voice can make the difference.