As net neutrality debate rages on, TRAI today said it does not intend to police the internet but there are three unexceptional principles including 'no blocking' which are not debatable. "Anybody in right frame of mind would not try to regulate or police the internet.
They would find a way around. But we need to understand that there are certain issues that need to be addressed," TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar said while speaking at an event organised by O P Jindal University. He, however, added that there cannot be any debate on three unexceptional principles.
"No blocking, transparency and no throttling or degrading adware. There can't be simply no debate on this." TRAI has recently floated a consultation paper for regulatory framework on over-the-top (OTT) service like internet-based calling and messaging services and net neutrality.
The regulator has received over 10 lakh response on its paper favouring net neutrality which means that no artificial barrier like slowing down of internet speed or differentiating between services available on internet, especially on payment basis.
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Khullar said Trai did not issue paper on the matter with intention to regulate internet. "People have confused this idea. I have been in civil services for 40 years and have some sense how public policy is made. We tend to form opinion in advance of facts...which in my view is extremely dangerous," Khullar said.
He said that if telecom companies are going to do traffic management then it should be disclosed to public that they are not abusing authority. An intense debate is going on on net neutrality in the country after telecom major Airtel in December decided to charge separately for VoIP or internet based calls.
The debate was triggered after Airtel announced a zero rating platform in April which allows its subscribers freely access applications on its Airtel Zero platform but applications are required to pay certain fee for joining its platform.
The government wants broadband for all and inclusive growth for which investment in infrastructure is required, Khullar said. "Who will shell it out? Either government do it or private companies. Suppose if there are 100 million people on internet and 900 million more join it without change in infrastructure then what will happen? Since this has confronted us question becomes how do we solve it.
We cannot turn a blind eye to it," he said. There have been strong arguments from both telecom operators and OTT players but a balanced needs to be created and if there are no resources then how will services be delivered. Khullar said that in countries like US there is landline in almost every home compared to India which has only 28 million landline connections.
"How will we take fibre to the home here. Government is building NOFN for Rs 20,100 crore. God knows how much will it cost when they complete it. Even if they do it believe me it is not going to bring broadband as fibre will not go to home.
For last mile spectrum will be required," Khullar said. Government National Optical Fibre Network Project aims to connect all 2.5 lakh panchayats in the country by 2016 that will deliver broadband with minimum speed of 100 mbps. There is plan to provide access of this network to telecom operators who will then provide services to end consumers.
He said that a carte blanche also cannot be given to telecom operators because they will take customers for a ride. "Do not get into micro management of this issue, if you do so you will die. The quicker we get a solution, quicker with the investment for delivering broadband.
It has been my regulatory business in last three years. What I have learnt is that the more regulation you write, more micro management you do, the worse you make problem," Khullar said. He said that there should be certain laid down rules agreed by everybody on which no compromise should be made to handle issues.