“Net neutrality” is a topic that is hot these days in the cyber world. As some of you may know, the internet, as a whole is facing existential problems in India. So, does it seem to be a doomsday? If the recent developments by some of the telecom operators are considered, this should be the testimony to this.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) is at the center of the entire controversy. There has been a huge consultation paper regarding the net neutrality. The issue is that there have been some baffling statements regarding apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Chat On, Snapchat, Kik, Instagram, Hike, Line, Google Talk, WeChat. Some ecom sites are also mentioned in the report like Flipkart and Amazon.
The paper also needs to know if the telecom operators will allow certain apps, sites or services more costly and make certain types of apps, sites or services cheaper.
The term ‘net neutrality’ was coined 12 years ago by Tim Wu, who is an American academic. He was of the view that net doesn’t favor a certain app over any others. To add to this, the telecom providers can’t order what data should be flowed. In short, according to net neutrality, there should be ‘neutrality’ in all kind of data should be seen equally.
One of the biggest problems regarding net neutrality is the tendency of the telecom operators. As a matter of fact, these telecom operators, all these years have got used to getting huge profits in the form of SMSing and phone services. These people are getting worried these days.
Why? Mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp, Hike, Viber and the like are eating into their business, in fact, their profits. Messaging is already free with such apps. And now after the introduction of free whatsapp calling, even the profits from phone calling have gone down.
Their concern about net neutrality is that the free data sent to and from these apps is putting extra pressure on their systems.
So, what’s the way out for the service providers to keep making money? It isn’t a time-tested method yet, but these providers – like Airtel, for example – have started to levy charges on the web service providers or app developers to make their products available to the consumer for no charge.
The base of internet is that it should be free for everyone. Also, everyone has the right to use it according to their wish. The network providers are just a means for making the internet available. And that is why people pay them. When a consumer pays the providers, they (the service providers) cannot dictate terms thereafter. So, instead of focusing on these current things the service providers can focus on the penetration of internet access. This will be a mean for net neutrality.
The service providers will also get to have newer sources of revenue streams as well. It now remains to be seen what developments and steps are taken as regards of net neutrality.