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TRAI to float net neutrality pre-consultation paper this week

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

Seeking to put in place an overall framework for internet usage in the country, telecom regulator TRAI today said a pre-consultation paper on the net neutrality may be issued as early as this week.

"We will start pre-consultation on net neutrality in 2-3 days. It (pre-consultation paper) may be issued this week," said TRAI Chairman R S Sharma.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has barred mobile operators from charging differential rates for internet access based on content. However, it exempted products offered over closed communication groups, known as CECN (closed electronic communications network), thus leaving room for possible misuse.

CECN, as the expansion of the term suggests, is accessible to only a closed group of people.

Other aspects of net neutrality like framework for internet-based calls, messaging, restricting speed on the basis of content or paid preferences remained out of the ambit too.

The ban by TRAI meant an end of Facebook's Free Basics and Airtel Zero platforms which sought to provide free access to certain contents.

A TRAI official said the pre-consultation will explore all issues pertaining to net neutrality.

Telecom industry body COAI and mobile operator Bharti Airtel have written to TRAI seeking clarification on differential rules.

In a letter to TRAI, Airtel said it has been approached by a big global content provider which is keen to offer video content on an exclusive basis over CECN of the telecom major, in compliance with the existing rules.

It said that while such an arrangement is in sync with the regulations, it may be viewed by some stakeholders as a violation of principles of net neutrality.

Sharma said TRAI will take a call on the issue raised by companies based on tariff proposals they will be filing with the regulator.


First published: 19 May 2016, 4:33 IST