Net neutrality is at the heart of internet architect, say tech teachers

Faculty members of IIT and IISc tear into arguments advanced by TRAI

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Geetanjali Minhas | April 23, 2015 | Mumbai


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Fifty professors from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have issued a joint statement and sought net neutrality. The IIT faculty members are from Bombay, Madras, Patna, Kharagpur, Kanpur , Delhi, Bangalore and Calcutta.

Debunking the crucial argument of telecom regulator Trai’s consultation paper that net neutrality must be violated to solve congestion in the network they have said that the data congestion can effectively addressed. As an example they say that fast connectivity can be provided to the user for first GB and slower connectivity for second GB. The second GB can also be priced higher.

Reasoning the argument they further point out that if the post office gets 90% postal mail from 10% of its users, it can either (a) impose limits of quantity of mail, or (b) price deferentially based on amount of mail sent, or (c) simply increase its capacity. “What it cannot do is to pry open every letter and price differently based on the content.”

Countering another major argument that service differentiation is necessary in telemedicine applications or specific business customers the experts counter that on the contrary choice for better service is made by the end customer not by the network.

“For instance, if a remote clinic wants a certain network capacity to a city hospital’s telemedicine portal, it chooses to buy that extra capacity by paying the network operator. On the other hand if net neutrality is violated and the network operator made the choice the clinic could end up with the same network capacity not to the required hospital website but to an e-commerce website of no use to the intended telemedicine.”

They further say that net neutrality is at the heart of the internet architecture and fundamental to its success.

“This is the reason why any small developer or business can develop a website or smart-phone app and have it used by its customers. When telecom network operators seek more control of how much traffic is used to which website or application (i.e., violate net neutrality by having ‘intelligence ’in the network) the fundamental idea behind the internet is under threat. The implications of this are huge   given that the internet is central to today’s information age.”

The professors from premiere institutes have  also criticised the terminology and title of consultation paper as ‘misleading and confusing’ and  said  that the term  “over-the-top” (OTT) services  has been used  as if such services are some special services or applications.

“Any standard digital networks textbook likely in its first chapter would tell that any service or application using the internet runs ‘over-the-top’ of the network. There is no example of an application which is not ‘over-the-top’. Thus the proposed regulatory framework encompasses every application and every use of the internet not just some special services” they have said.
 

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