Does DoT panel understand net neutrality?

The recommendations on net neutrality brought out by the government panel sparked mixed reaction from the industry stakeholders.

Kevin Martin, vice-president for Mobile and Global Access Policy at Facebook:

As recognized in today’s report, we introduced the platform to promote an Internet access model that is open and non-exclusive. We welcome the Department of Telecom’s engagement and consultation process and are committed to working with all stakeholders to overcome the infrastructure, affordability and social barriers that exist today and to bring more people in India online.

Internet and Mobile Association of India:

Zero rating and other pro-access programs have the potential to dramatically expand Internet access in India and bring more people online, but the report fails to fully recognize the value and potential of such programs. Not all zero ratings are violating the Net Neutrality principles and especially in countries like India where the Internet penetration is very low, such services can actually help in faster proliferation of broadband. So, the net neutrality laws should keep the plan of zero-rated services open and implement along the lines that is not anti-competitive and in lines with the principles of net neutrality.

net neutrality

Mahesh Uppal, director of telecom consultancy firm Com First:

We need to facilitate over-the-top (OTT) services. The idea is not to increase regulatory burden on OTT players but to reduce it on telecom players. The committee is suggesting a higher regulatory burden on OTT players, which is retrograde. Instead it should have sought to equate the regulatory burden by reducing the burden on telecom players.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP and advocate of net neutrality:

The DoT report on net neutrality is disappointing in its vagueness, ambiguity and for failing to clearly define net neutrality. A clear and unambiguous definition would have ensured telcos do not violate principles of net neutrality. It is also surprising that the DoT has blandly accepted level playing field argument of telcos to justify the regulation of VoIP apps. An open, fair, accessible Internet is crucial for Digital India, and unfortunately, the DoT report is not helpful in this regard. I will challenge DoT’s approach to net neutrality in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.