TRAI releases new Consultation Paper on Net Neutrality

The Indian Telecom Regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday has released a new consultation paper on Net Neutrality, asking for comments and counter – comments from stakeholders by February 15 and February 28, 2016 respectively. Responses are to be mailed to Asit Kadayan, Advisor (QoS) TRAI on the email address advqos@trai.gov.in.

The Net Neutrality debate started in March 2015 , but the focus shifted to differential pricing and the regulator passed a regulation against the same in February 2016.

Before proceeding let’s define the term “Net Neutrality”. As per wikipedia, “Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally”. In simple terms, it means like Internet Service providers cannot provide preferential treatment to any website, online services or app. All sites to be equally accessible with equal browsing speeds and equal data rates.

Today the Regulator has brought up a consultation paper with 14 questions spread across 61 pages and wants you to send them an e-mail by February 15, 2016 in the prescribed format.

Question 1: What could be the principles for ensuring nondiscriminatory access to content on the
Internet, in the Indian context?
Question 2: How should “Internet traffic” and providers of “Internet services” be understood in the
NN context?
(a) Should certain types of specialised services, enterprise solutions, Internet of Things,
etc be excluded from its scope? How should such terms be defined?
(b) How should services provided by content delivery networks and direct interconnection arrangements be treated?
Please provide reasons.
Question 3: In the Indian context, which of the following regulatory approaches would be preferable:
(a) Defining what constitutes reasonable TMPs (the broad approach), or
(b) Identifying a negative list of non reasonable TMPs (the narrow approach).
Please provide reasons.
Question 4: If a broad regulatory approach, as suggested in Q3, is to be followed:
(a) What should be regarded as reasonable TMPs and how should different categories
of traffic be objectively defined from a technical point of view for this purpose?
(b) Should application-specific discrimination within a category of traffic be viewed
more strictly than discrimination between categories?
(c) How should preferential treatment of particular content, activated by a users choice
and without any arrangement between a TSP and content provider, be treated?
Question 5: If a narrow approach, as suggested in Q3, is to be followed what should be regarded as
non reasonable TMPs?

Question 6: Should the following be treated as exceptions to any regulation on TMPs?
(a) Emergency situations and services;
(b) Restrictions on unlawful content;
(c) Maintaining security and integrity of the network;
(d) Services that may be notified in public interest by the Government/ Authority,
based on certain criteria; or
(e) Any other services.
Please elaborate.
Question 7: How should the following practices be defined and what are the tests, thresholds and
technical tools that can be adopted to detect their deployment:
(a) Blocking;
(b) Throttling (for example, how can it be established that a particular application is
being throttled?); and
(c) Preferential treatment (for example, how can it be established that preferential
treatment is being provided to a particular application?).
Question 8: Which of the following models of transparency would be preferred in the Indian context:
(a) Disclosures provided directly by a TSP to its consumers;
(b) Disclosures to the regulator;
(c) Disclosures to the general public; or
(d) A combination of the above.
Please provide reasons. What should be the mode, trigger and frequency to publish
such information?
Question 9: Please provide comments or suggestions on the Information Disclosure Template at
Table 5.1? Should this vary for each category of stakeholders identified above? Please
provide reasons for any suggested changes.
Question 10: What would be the most effective legal/policy instrument for implementing a NN frame-
work in India?
(a) Which body should be responsible for monitoring and supervision?
(b) What actions should such body be empowered to take in case of any detected
violation?
(c) If the Authority opts for QoS regulation on this subject, what should be the scope
of such regulations?
Question 11: What could be the challenges in monitoring for violations of any NN framework? Please
comment on the following or any other suggested mechanisms that may be used for such
monitoring:
(a) Disclosures and information from TSPs;
(b) Collection of information from users (complaints, user-experience apps, surveys,
questionnaires); or
(c) Collection of information from third parties and public domain (research studies,
news articles, consumer advocacy reports).
Question 12:  Can we consider adopting a collaborative mechanism, with representation from TSPs,
content providers, consumer groups and other stakeholders, for managing the opera-
tional aspects of any NN framework?
(a) What should be its design and functions?
(b) What role should the Authority play in its functioning?
Question 13: What mechanisms could be deployed so that the NN policy/regulatory framework may
be updated on account of evolution of technology and use cases?
Question 14: The quality of Internet experienced by a user may also be impacted by factors such as
the type of device, browser, operating system being used. How should these aspects be
considered in the NN context?Please explain with reasons.
Read the entire consultation paper here.

 

What's your views ?