RJio throws weight behind Airtel, Voda on Net neutrality

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on April 27, 2015


All out battle between operators and internet firms

Reliance Jio has thrown its weight behind Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular in asking TRAI to bring internet services companies such as WhatsApp, Skype and Google under the regulatory regime.

In a letter to the telecom regulator, Reliance Jio said that there should be a level playing field between licensed telecom operators and the so-called over-the-top (OTT) players.

“…it would be a fallacious assumption that the low internet penetrations and speeds warrant that OTT services should be kept out of the regulatory framework just to facilitate their growth. In fact India’s OTT landscape is still taking shape and we believe that for increasing the broadband penetration and growth of OTT services ... it is the right time to put in place an appropriate regulatory framework,” it said in the letter.

Seeking balance

Other telecom companies, including Airtel and Vodafone, had last week made a similar demand. Their primary grouse is that while telecom companies are subjected to a number of rules and regulations, companies that offer competing services are not required to comply with Indian laws. This, they say, was distorting the playing field.

Internet companies, however, said the telecom operators have got it wrong. “There is a misconception that internet platforms and services are unregulated and operate in the absence of legal and regulatory oversight. Internet platform and services companies are strongly regulated through the powerful and effective IT Act, 2000. It is the most comprehensive Act, covering all aspects of Internet platforms and services,” said the Internet & Mobile Association of India. The association represents the interest of companies such as Facebook and Google.

The discussion on Net neutrality, triggered by a TRAI consultation paper, has turned into an all-out war between traditional telecom operators and internet companies. While both sides agree they are in favour of Net neutrality, they differ on the definition.

Net users shocked

The TRAI paper has drawn responses from more than a million internet users, who got a shock when their comments were uploaded on the regulator’s website along with their email IDs.

Many took to social media blasting the regulator for being insensitive and exposing them to spammers by disclosing their email IDs online.

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Published on April 27, 2015
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