Telecom panel’s suggestions on net neutrality has created mixed reactions from the industry, with many like Nasscom go totally against it. According to Nasscom, the organization that sets tone of public policies for the India software industry, the policies suggested by DoT panel can lead to breach of privacy and hence, is stated as ‘anti-consumer’.
DoT panel has proposed regulations on domestic calls made through Internet-based apps Skype, Whatsapp and Viber. DoT panel wanted to bring the domestic calls on Internet-based apps on par with the services offered by telecom operators. However, for VoIP international calling services, panel suggested a liberal approach.
"It (recommendation) will certainly amount to breach of privacy because without doing deep packet inspection, you will not be able to distinguish the content and you will not be able to find if it is voice or non-voice," Nasscom President R. Chandrashekhar, who is also a former telecom secretary, told PTI.
According to Chandrashekhar, the recommendations may look like they support net neutrality, but on a deeper analysis, they are anti-consumer and prove harmful for digital India.
"No curbs on app developers, messaging or instant messaging platforms that integrate these kind of services. These are steps in right direction. The committee has said we should not regulate them and encourage them," he said.
"The recommendations, if implemented, would impact crores of subscribers,” he added.
According to the panel, Facebook’s internet.org allowed free access to only few websites, which means Facebook decides which website to reach customers. It act as a gatekeeper, said DoT panel. Facebook defended internet.org saying, it is not a gatekeeper, rather a gateway to internet that takes internet to people who cannot afford it.
For Airtel Zero, the panel suggested that the operator can go ahead of the plan once the TRAI approves it. It compared the plan to toll-free number and proposed "ex-ante determination" and "ex-post regulation" model for dealing with tariff plan of Airtel Zero.
Under ‘ex-ante determination, Airtel can file the tariff plans before Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, and TRAI checks if the plans go against net neutrality, before approving them. For OTT, panel cited national security reasons, saying that they should comply with it like the telecom operators.
Net neutrality became a heated topic of discussion when Airtel launched Airtel Zero, a plan that would allow free access to few websites on its network. However, the companies would pay for joining the platform.