MPs meeting telecom companies to thrash out net neutrality

Government has promised non-discriminatory access to internet to all

GN Bureau | May 21, 2015


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Illustration: Ashish Asthana

The net neutrality issue is now with the law makers. A parliamentary committee of MPs is holding discussion on the controversial issue today (Thursday).

 At the meeting convened by the standing committee on information technology, telecom company officials are expected to make their views known on the issue that vent viral with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) consultation paper last month. Call drops on major mobile networks will also be discussed at the meeting.

READ: Everything you need to know about Net Neutrality

 All parties including ruling BJP and its ally Shiv Sena had voiced their concerns on the matter during a mention in the Rajya Sabha.      

The government, while insisting that no decision has been taken on the TRAI consultation paper, has promised to ensure "non-discriminatory access to internet" to all citizens.   

"Government stands for ensuring non-discriminatory access to internet for all citizens of the country.... It is committed to the fundamental principles and concept of net neutrality, keeping the internet accessible and available to all without discrimination," IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said in Parliament.

"Connectivity to internet must go in an unhindered manner.... I assure the House that the key principles of net neutrality will be followed while following concerns with a national outlook," he had said.

Meanwhile, fair trade watchdog Competition Commission of India has said that it is a policy issue and sectoral regulator TRAI has to first take a stand in this regard.

 CCI chairman Ashok Chawla, however, assured that the CCI will look into the matter when it is presented before the commission.

"It has not come to us. We will see when it comes. This is a policy issue. The regulator (TRAI) has to decide first. Based on whatever happens in terms of behaviour as in conformity and not in conformity of policy we will see and in any case if they are going to interact with us they are welcome," Chawla said.

The CCI keeps a watch on unfair business practices and the issue of some telecom operators having an agreement for offering free access to certain mobile apps and websites raises concerns.

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