Net Neutrality: TRAI extends deadline to receive comments till 7 January


Telecom regulator TRAI has announced it was extending the deadline to receive comments on its paper on differential data pricing by a week with the new deadline being fixed at 7 January.

Differential data pricing is a key aspect of the raging debate on net neutrality.

“It is being extended to January 7, primarily due to extension requests of COAI and AUSPI,” PTI reported quoting an official source.

The deadline for comment on the paper was ending on 30 December.

Although the paper by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India does not mention or use the term net neutrality, it details the idea of zero-rating platforms that have stirred up the big debate across the country on the issue.

TRAI has received a record 16.5 lakh comments — highest ever on any paper floated by it till date.

Comments received through Facebook for Free Basics are around 8 lakh. The regulator has also received similar number of messages from people opposing Facebook’s Free Basics and other zero-rating programmes, and about 3,000 individual messages.

As per SavetheInternet forum, the net neutrality principle says that internet service providers should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that rides over their networks.

Facebook has launched campaign where it is asking users to support Free Basics scheme under which the user can access some websites for free without paying internet charges. The regulator had received over 10 lakh comments on first consultation that it floated around net neutrality.

But the social media platform has been accused of duping its users by tricking them to sign a favourable message for Free Basics.

A debate on net neutrality stirred across the country after Airtel decided to charge separately for internet-based calls but withdrew it later after people protested.

Internet activists and experts flayed the operator for Airtel Zero service along with Facebooks service.
TRAI’s paper mentions some plans which amount to differential tariffs of the telecom service provider who offer zero or discounted tariffs to certain contents of certain websites or applications or platforms.

“The net result of these offers is that it empowers/ enables the TSPs (telecom service providers) to select certain content providers ,either through the platforms or directly, and offer discounted access plans to these websites/ applications/platforms,” TRAI paper said

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