Does India need net neutrality?

Does India need net neutrality?


Net neutrality is the term every internet user or netizen is discussing, mostly in support, some against, and few confused for we never ever paid any heed to this term before. Now that we know TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)has released consultation paper to frame laws for net neutrality in India, we must act wisely for the law will decide the future of internet freedom in India. Net neutrality is meant to ensure unfiltered flow of data with the same charges without discrimination if the content is legal. Though there has been no law that called for net neutrality, Indian telecom authorities have been following the pattern just like telephone neutrality. But now internet has taken a completely different shape from what it was in the days of its initiation, hence changing the aspects of equality towards dominance of the superior. We must fight to ensure that charges remain equal irrespective of user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communications.


1. Internet on the whole is based on the idea of neutrality. We cannot accept hindrances just because some tech giants want a share of the profit made by the sites people visit more often. Small ventures on the internet would never be able to make it to the top if net neutrality is not ensured. The basic factor that promoted the success of Google and Facebook from small sites to dominating networks is net neutrality. They did not need promotions and showcasing for people had the freedom to try whichever service they saw over the web.

2. Tim Berners-Lee, the father of world wide web said: "when I designed the Web, I deliberately built it as a neutral, creative and collaborative space, building on the openness the Internet offered. My vision was that anyone, anywhere in the world could share knowledge and ideas without needing to buy a license or ask permission from myself or any CEO, government department or committee. This openness unleashed a tidal wave of innovation, and it is still powering new breakthroughs in science, commerce, culture and much more besides." The wave of innovation which Berners-Lee talked about would be a lost cause without net neutrality.

3. Airtel Zero is an attempt to curb net neutrality and Flipkart was the first to extend support to the deal. Airtel zero promises extra preference to websites that sign up, and browsing them over Airtel would be for free. After heavy criticism, Flipkart withdrew its venture with Airtel stating that they would not do anything against net neutrality for they believe their existence is a contribution of the internet. Of course, what Flipkart doesn't want to mention is that their rating went down to one star soon after the news of joining Airtel zero floated in air.

4. If net neutrality is not made mandatory for internet service providers, there would be no internet freedom left at all. Only preferential websites would be accessed from a particular network. The others would either struggle or give up in vain. Innovation and new ideas would be refrained from being exposed to the world. If net neutrality is not ensured, internet providers would soon ask for extra package for accessing websites that ain't Indian. Connecting people across the world would be a vague term if internet freedom gets compromised in any way.

5. Government has also extended support to net neutrality. 'Digital India' as PM Modi terms his vision for future of the nation can only be envisaged if internet freedom is maintained throughout. We have the freedom of speech including criticism and condemnation on the web. We are free to blog against the service provider without any intervention in data sent across the same platform. The world would be refrained from knowing the pleas of other consumers, which we often use as reviews, without net neutrality.


1. Net neutrality is a vague term now that the evolution of internet has proved that one can dominate along with the peaceful existence of others. Google overtook AOL, Facebook overtook Orkut and many other social networks, Apple's iOS has its own preference for some apps. These are anything but neutrality. Promotional attempts should not be judged upon as a way to curb freedom.

2. Internet service providers have been playing it wrong ever since they started special packages for access only to particular apps. Users are led to believe that this is a profitable pack for them when it is entirely the opposite. Reliance-Facebook deal which ought to provide free Facebook to some regions with no internet access is not meant for a good cause but a profitable business between the two companies.

3. Reliance has also violated net neutrality various other times with its free WhatsApp pack and Twitter packs. If we don't call these a violation, then Airtel's Zero programme is also in the same category. Even Wikipedia collaborated with Aircel for in 2013 to provide free services over this particular network. ISPs have already tried regulating traffic that flows through their servers and it might just be too late to restrain them.

4. The debate on net neutrality has never been solved even in US where the system is more mature than ours. We on the other hand have a telecom ministry along with government intervention on every matter. We have sites censored, contents deleted and banned, speeches removes for being offensive and yet we do nothing about bringing in neutrality.


Laws for net neutrality should be made in order to restrict IPS from framing their own strategies that are biased and intended solely for the purpose of profit making. However, these rules need to comprise all ways in which net neutrality is being curbed in India. Along with ensuring net neutrality, it is more essential that cost of internet be lowered and speed made neutral over various IPS. Internet access in rural areas is also a matter of concern that needs to be taken care of. We must be a part of TRAI's consultation paper with our views in favour of net neutrality. Only when we can partake in extending our support to these causes, we can expect better changes to happen.
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  • RE: Does India need net neutrality? -Sonal Jha (04/17/15)
  • Very rightly articulated discussion on various aspect of Net Neutrality.

    Net Neutrality ensures access to all websites and not only preferential websites which might have paid massively to the IPS. We need a strong law to protect Net neutrality, thus the only way to get best over Net. Any filter of website based on payment would demean enormous potential of internet. India is counted highly in IT industry. We are regarded highly in the field of IT which is fiercely rely on Internet. We can't afford any restriction on NET. Internet has huge potential, please don't curb its visibility. Let the best service reach to the people.