The government is in favour of maintaining net neutrality as the internet is an instrument for the masses and must remain so, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said, marking the first time the Centre has adopted a public stand on the subject.
“The internet must promote local along with the global. For India, net neutrality is very important,” Prasad, also the IT minister, said at a meeting with US Under-Secretary of State Catherine Novelli.
The principle of net neutrality implies that service providers will treat all data on the internet equally and not impose differential pricing or discriminate among users, content sites, apps and platforms.
“As far as government architecture to deal with this issue is concerned, India is studying this and discussing it with stakeholders,” Prasad added.
The minister’s comments came as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is set to begin working on the issue. Trai chairman Rahul Khullar had told ET that the sectoral watchdog would issue a consultation paper on the subject by the third week of January.
Late December, Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator, faced a backlash on social media after it became the first telecom operator globally to introduce higher charges for making voice calls over the internet, thus breaching net neutrality. The firm withdrew the plan in less than a week, saying it would wait for Trai’s consultation process.
“Net neutrality is an area on which the US federal government has taken a firm stand that we do not want any compromises,” Novelli told Prasad.
The US communications regulator postponed its decision on the matter with president Barack Obama openly backing net neutrality and suggesting that the internet be treated like a utility.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to come up with its recommendations on the matter this year.
The two leaders also wanted more cooperation between the countries on the issue of cybersecurity.
Prasad also discussed the government’s Digital India vision and its Make in India push with the US leader.
“Electronic manufacturing is an area that this government is promoting in a big way,” Prasad said, assuring Novelli of equal and fair treatment to all US companies investing in India.
Novelli, on her part, said that while companies from the US are excited to promote manufacturing in India, “the constraints of global supply chain must also be understood while promoting Make in India.”
“If they manufacture in India, they not only sell their products in India but also export it to the rest of the world and avail incentives,” Novelli said.
Source : Net neutrality is key: Telecom minister, ET Bureau ( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Net-neutrality-is-key-Telecom-minister/articleshow/45883336.cms )