As the uproar continues in favour of Net Neutrality, telecom watchdog TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar on Sunday said “shrill voices” will not win the debate and the concept is not “practiced strictly” even in countries like the US and the UK.
The principle of Net Neutrality calls for equal treatment to be accorded to all Internet traffic, without discrimination or priority for any person, entity or company. While Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has floated a discussion paper on this topic, a raging debate has broken out in the country following the launch of platforms like Airtel Zero and internet.org. “There has to be democratic debate. It’s a debate that is waiting to happen. Shrill voices do not win debate. Cool headed reasoned arguments on both sides are need of the hour,” Khullar said.
“There are different practices in different jurisdictions. UK and parts of Europe do not practice strict net-neutrality. Even in US zero rating plans are permissible,” he said, while replying to a question on whether India was in a position to align with the global net-neutrality principles. In response to its paper, for which public comments have been sought till April 24, TRAI has already been flooded with over 8 lakh petitions against any attempt to throttle ‘net neutrality’ concept. “Both sides have their argument. We have consultation process running. Let everybody’s comment come in place, then we will decide further course of action,” Khullar said.
The debate had begun after telecom major Airtel decided to charge separately for Internet-based phone calls in December, which it had to later withdraw. Earlier this month, the company launched ‘Airtel Zero’ platform, which flared up the entire debate on Net Neutrality, also engulfing Facebook’s internet.org initiative that has Reliance Communications as a partner in India.
Both Facebook and Airtel claim that their platforms do not violate the Net Neutrality principle and they are actually aimed at expanding Internet access in India.