NET NEUTRALITY is not just a good idea. It ought to be the law.
Why everybody is eyeing on India ?
India, the country where people like business tycoons and IT professionals see humongous scope for giving the much needed push to elate their business. For them our country is a sea of talent which has every resource to take their work next level, provided they use it wisely. In the recent decades, the ‘think tank’ of the country have blessed us with the whole new world of unprecedented opportunities and emerge as a potential superpower. Continuing the legacy, our current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi launched Digital India program on 1st July 2015 with an insight that internet should reach each and every part of the country, for he know that embracing the technology is the only way to match the already developed countries. Every company wants to grab this opportunity with both hands and take use of the simplest FDI policies ever offered by this subcontinent.
Telecommunication has become an indispensable part of each & every citizen of India. And there still lot of users yet to avail these services and turn into ‘Netizens’. Knowing this the famous IT giants such as Facebook, Flipkart, Airtel has come up with scheme of providing Free Internet for basic usage at slow speed and charging only for those websites which were not included in free package. That’s how this scheme gave rise to differential pricing and stirred the world of internet on the Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality means that every bit of data is free from the restrictions of ISP and a customer is free to use the data the way he wants regardless of the content. It should not be of any concern to the service provider whether the data bits is based on audio, video or text. This act completely aligns with the principles which form the basis of the Constitution of India, i.e. treating each and every individual as equal.
Why this problem arose ?
The problem began when Indian telecom players like Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance woke up and realized that users were replacing traditional texting with WhatsApp or Viber and traditional network calling with apps such as Skype(also called Over-The-Top services).
Reliance already has a Facebook-driven scheme called Internet.org, where you can access Bing for free, but you have to pay to access Google; and you have access to BabaJob for free, while you have to pay for Naukri.com.
No matter what these few ‘big guns’ keeps on saying about providing free internet to the world, deep down we always knew that there is nothing anyone would give us for FREE. There has always been some hidden motive in these kind of free schemes, especially when they are started by businessmen. It is quite evident, that companies like Facebook are dying for their Internet.org project to establish in India, even if they have to welcome us with ‘Request to TRAI’ window each & every time we log in to our account.
The Little Good
The only section of society who are going to get benefited with this scheme are the villagers and people of small towns who has been refraining themselves from using internet because of steep prices and not so relevant information. The reason which I believe why internet is irrelevant for them is because nobody knows the worth of something until & unless they have use it. What these people actually need is support in their MSME’s, NGO’s, small business to expand & better agricultural guidance for adults and adequate education facilities for children so that they may not feel the heat of the moment when they enter competitive environment with students born and brought up in cities.
But then again we are still in evolving phase where even our Prime Minister have become the victim of call drop & the common people don’t even get half the speed that telecom companies claim in their flashy advertisements. Our 3G networks works like 2G(most of the times), then how can we expect that these free websites will deliver on purpose who are already said to work on slower speed networks.
So as per my opinion, the risk involved here is much higher than the benefit the scheme can provide to citizen of our country.
Behind the scene
Differential pricing is like promising a person to take him on island where his favorite things will be provided but if he want to access other things then he may have to burn a hole in his pocket. This way differential prices will diminish the flexibility that resides in the current scenario.
Internet is something where information is spread in a shared manner. People share things of their interests, things which matter to them but differential prices will restrict them to use unwanted things more often rather than things they are really in need of. Moreover, this differential prices for using websites will give them a free hand to the service providers to manipulate the cost of a particular websites whenever they want. Imagine a day, when you have to pay extra to visit website for booking railway ticket, filling a examination form or even paying utility bills!
Without this open access, which many internet users take for granted, startups like Google, Twitter and Facebook might never have flourished, net neutrality advocates argue.
TRAI has given enough emphasis on whether to allow this scheme or not. TRAI used the social media platform to know what people really think about these schemes. Finally, it has given it’s verdict once again in favor of the people. After all, that makes India a democratic country.