DoT calls meeting on Monday to discuss net neutrality issue

Meeting will be attended by stakeholders group and the members of DoT committee

GN Bureau | April 24, 2015


#net neutrality   #internet   #department of telecommunication   #telecom  


With campaign on net neutrality attaining mass response proportions, the Department of Telecom has called a meeting on Monday (April 27) to discuss the issue.

The meeting of multistakeholder advisory group (MAG) will be with a committee constituted in the DoT to examine various aspects of net neutrality. The committee is under Telecom Commission member (Technology) A K Bhargava and it to make suggestions on the subject. At present India does not has any legislation on net neutrality.

MAG was constituted by Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) in February 2014. It has 39 members representing government, industry, academia and civil groups. It includes officers from DeitY, DoT, Ministry of External Affairs, Information and Broadcast Ministry, Home Ministry, Law Ministry and National Security Council Secretariat represent government in the group.

Read More: Net Neutrality: Nasscom stands by users, against bias

Indian CERT, NIXI, National Informatic Centre are among bodies representing technical community in MAG. Internet Society, Centre for Science Development and Media Studies, Digital Empowerment Foundation, Centre for Internet and Society are among members that represent civil society in the group.  Others on the group are industry chambers CII, FICCI, Nasscom, Assocham and sectoral organizations COAI.

In fact, the COAI had asked the government to hold public discussion on the issue with a view to ensuring unhindered access to web-based services.

Industry body COAI has asked the Department of Telecom to discuss the matter publicly before firming up its view.

In a letter to Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg, COAI director general Rajan S Mathews said: "We would also like to respectfully request the DoT to initiate an open consultation with all stakeholders to examine all issues pertaining to net neutrality before formulating a view on this issue."

Telecom operators and VoIP service providers or Over-the-Top players have been at loggerheads over this issue. Telecom operators have said that OTT players like Skype, WhatsApp, Viber etc are eating up their main revenue without investing in networks.

OTT players on the other hand maintain that access to internet or web-based services should be allowed without hurdle for growth of communities and nations.

Under the net-neutrality principle, telecom and internet companies should treat all web based services equally and there should be no differential pricing or any kind of barrier that discourages people from accessing services.

The issue came to limelight after telecom major Bharti Airtel in December decided to charge separately for VoIP calls that are made using the internet connection. The company later withdrew its scheme following huge public outcry as at the prescribed rate for VoIP calls.

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