Centre approves telecom authority’s recommendations on net neutrality

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

The fight for net neutrality in India was a hot topic in 2016, when Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had floated a consultation paper on the topic. Net neutrality rules bar service providers from discriminating against internet content or services by blocking them or modifying access speeds.

"In the age of autonomous vehicles and remote diagnostic surgery, you need to prioritize (the speed of) certain kinds of traffic so those categories of critical services which will be subsequently notified by the DoT will be kept out (of net neutrality norms) and that is in line with worldwide practices; everything else will conform to core principles of net neutrality", Sundararjan said.

"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality - which come into effect nearly immediately - will be met with stiff penalties", Department of Telecommunications secretary Aruna Sundararajan told The Times of India.

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India's stand on net neutrality also came at a time when the United States had repealed its free internet rules and chose to allow internet providers to charge more for certain content or giving preferential treatment to certain websites through commercial agreements.

The National Digital Communications Policy, which aimed at creating new jobs and getting investments of more than $100 billion into India by 2022, will now be taken to the Cabinet for final approval, after the department pored over more than 1000 views from different stakeholders at the review stage. "Everybody in the meeting today said that digital infrastructure is even more important than physical infrastructure for India", Sundararajan said. "Therefore, India must have ease of doing business and enabling policy environment", she said.

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