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Amitabh Sharma Amitabh Sharma Written by Amitabh Sharma, Read the recent blogs posts , press releases and news written by Amitabh Sharma
on 13 Apr 2016

We have a few days to go before Telecom Regulators in India are planning to recommend anti -net neutrality and our internet experience will change forever. Some of us must have heard the term “Net Neutrality” but are not yet concerned about it since we are not sure what it means exactly.

Let’s first understand what Net-Neutrality is:

We surf the internet today freely watching the sites we want and pay for the volume of usage. Now, how would you feel if someone makes you pay more for some sites that you use and pay nothing for some of the sites that you generally do not use frequently?. In short, control your viewing experience. Let’s say which is lesser known & least used is a free site but which is frequently used is a paid site. We are sure you can now comprehend the impact. Well, users may still feel that there is no harm in paying for the use of certain sites while some sites are free; that is not a bad thing to happen.

Now try to think of it this way:

What if we told you that the price you pay for milk that you consume would differ based on the color of the cow? We are sure that it is more logical to price the milk based on the quality than any other factor. It therefore makes sense for the Internet service provider to charge for quality of service rather than the sites that you browse. However, from what I know about these service providers, this is something that they have been trying to do for long and now they are about to do it. For the Operator content is just bits & bytes, hence does not make sense for them to monetize basis the content

How does this happen:

Let’s take an example. Top India Telco started where you access Bing for free but you pay for using Google. Here Bing pays to Telco for their customer bandwidth usage.

Today, service providers want the freedom to charge as they please for some sites and there is no logical basis to do this except probably their own vested interests. In case the service provider was so eager to do this, they should have come up with a platform of their own on the lines of Facebook or Whatsapp or some other such platform and charged for the use of that platform. However, that is not the case as these service providers are only a conduit for these applications but want a piece of the pie just for being that.

Why is this wrong, you ask:

1. It is because by asking for a slice of the pie, the service providers are basically allowing only those sites that can pay them to be popular and not others who cannot afford to. For the end-user this means that the choice of what we browse will boil down to those sites that are free viz a viz sites which offer similar services but you pay for the usage. Hence users will be prone to use free services more often.On the one hand, our freedom as a user to browse what we want without having to pay for it is being taken away and on the other hand, we are also making it difficult for the smaller players to survive. Do you think that players like Google, Twitter, Facebook and others like them should participate in a move like this? The thing about sites like this is that they do monetize the site for generating ad revenue and there is nothing wrong as such in promotion.

2. So far it is still ok but what if Operators start different charging model depending on its popularity. Example one Service Provider charges users 10 paise per Mb to access Yahoo Mail while charges 5 paise per Mb for Gmail while Rediff is free. If this happens Net-Neutrality will be completely lost.

Do you really think that this freedom should be given to them?

My Suggestion:

There should be only two types of charging model for the service provider Zero Cost or Bandwidth cost but no third type of charge

Which means Telco is free to charge the internet players by making their usage free for consumers while letting the consumers surf other internet content at the Bandwidth cost & not charge them extra for it. As in this case players who want to pay for their customers’ bandwidth usage can pay & at the same time Telco can charge for being a carrier not cash in on the popularity of the applications/sites.

Is TRAI Listening?

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