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Sajib Nandi

Battle for open internet: Will you now have to pay for WhatsApp, YouTube?

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Sajib Nandi

By Pranav Dixit in Hindustantimes.com on Apr 05, 2015

Battle for open internet: Will you now have to pay for WhatsApp, YouTube?

 

On December 25, 2014, Airtel, the country's largest mobile operator with over 200 million active subscribers, dropped a bombshell: it wanted to charge customers extra for using services like Skype, Viber and Google Hangouts even though they had already paid for Internet access. If customers wanted to use a service that used Internet data to make voice calls - something known as VoIP - they would need to subscribe to an additional VoIP pack, the company said.

Airtel was double-dipping and customers were furious. The tweets flew thick and fast. In less than four days, Airtel backtracked on its plans. It would wait, it said, for a consultation paper about net neutrality that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) would publish soon.

Net neutrality sounds like a scary term but what it means is simply this: on the Internet, all bits are equal. What you do with the data you pay for - watch a YouTube video, send a WhatsApp message or make a Skype call - is entirely your prerogative and in an ideal world, your Internet service provider should not prioritise certain kinds of bits over others. A neutral Internet is a utility like electricity - if your power company, for instance, doesn't have a say in how you use the electricity it provides, why should an Internet service provider get to decide what you do with the bits you pay for?

"The Internet is built on principles of openness and freedom, and at the core of this is nondiscrimination at an ISP level," says Nikhil Pahwa, editor of Medianama and a vocal advocate for net neutrality.

Right now, thanks to the rise of apps like WhatsApp, which eat into operators' SMS revenues, and video-streaming services like YouTube and Netflix, which consume massive amounts of bandwidth, these principles of openness and freedom are being challenged around the world. In the United States, for example, video-streaming service Netflix was forced to pay Comcast, the country's largest Internet service provider, to retain its access to consumers or risk being throttled. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only recently voted to regulate broadband as a public utility - no splitting the Internet into fast and slow lanes as operators had wanted. The FCC was promptly sued by the United States Telecom Association, a trade group that represents some of the country's largest Internet providers.

Back home, the TRAI, too, has been busy. This week, it released a consultation paper - a mind-numbing 118-page document - and 20 questions that it wants you (yes, you!) to answer about why you think you deserve (or don't deserve) an open Internet.

"The TRAI consultation leans significantly towards finding some middle ground between what the telecom industry wants and the Internet that we've all grown up with," says Pahwa, who, along with 70 other enthusiasts, crunched it down to a concise 23 pages that you can actually understand (you can access the abridged version on Medianama's website). "In my opinion, any compromise on the principles of net neutrality or on any attempt to license online companies is unacceptable."

Indeed, the paper begins by classifying everything on the Internet as we know it - Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Hike, Amazon, Flipkart, Ola, Facebook Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, iMessage, online games, music streaming services like Pandora and more - as OTT, telecom industry jargon for "over-the-top" services.

 

"It's ridiculous," says Pahwa. "All these services are the whole reason why we pay these service providers for Internet access in the first place."

So how will having a non-neutral Internet affect you? For starters, you can say goodbye to paying a flat fee for using a certain amount of data each month and accessing whatever you want. Your Internet will be sliced up into "packs" - `50 extra for a YouTube pack, for instance, `30 for a WhatsApp pack, `20 to access Google search, and on and on it goes. Your operator might also decide to charge a service like YouTube if it wishes to reach you. If YouTube - or any other service - doesn't pay up, it risks being slowed down. Operators can also use this tactic to strategically push their own services over the competition. Airtel, for example, owns a music-streaming app called Wynk, which it might provide full access to its own network while throttling competitors like Gaana or Saavn.

It's important to remember that it's not just telecom companies that are interested in a non-neutral Internet in India. According to the TRAI consultation paper, 83 percent of India's Internet users access the Internet from their mobile phones. This massive audience is crucial for multi-billion dollar corporations like Twitter, Facebook and Google. In February, Reliance Communications and Facebook partnered to launch Internet.org in India, a service whose ostentatious aim was to bring the Internet to the next billion people. In reality, Internet.org grossly violated net neutrality by offering free access to a handpicked list of websites and social networks for free, while making users pay for others; Google bundled free data with its Android One phones; and WhatsApp tied up with multiple providers across the country to provide "WhatsApp Packs."

But if things are bad for consumers, they're worse for businesses and startups that rely on an open Internet to reach customers. "If I'm building an app, I need to know that a new feature, which I may not have thought of today, can be added later without me having to first negotiate a deal with an operator," says Rohin Dharmakumar, an entrepreneur who is in the process of launching Owntastic, a Bangalore-based startup that focuses on after-sales experience once a consumer buys a product. "I'm very worried."

Dharmakumar adds that regulating the Internet in this manner will ensure that India's booming startup culture is nipped in the bud. "Startups will die."

Right now, businesses and companies are free to operate whatever services they want over the Internet. "Features become full businesses," says Pahwa. "That freedom will get constrained by this approach to maximise revenues by restricting. Telecom operators should be seeking to maximise revenues by making us use more of the Internet. They're slicing the pie instead of growing the pie."

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Prasad GLN

Believe me, the rush is not going to come down, even after collection of any further / even exorbitant charges, and it may even escalate, as customers are accustomed to that.

Of course, it is only rich parents that are going to foot the bills in most of the cases, and the measure hardly affects a common man.

Let them loot.

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Sajib Nandi

By Francis D'Sa in Deccanchronicle.com on April 11, 2015

Net Neutrality: All you need to know about it, support it | Deccan Chronicle

 

Net Neutrality, a term that has been out there for a while now, is causing a rage between internet users and the telecom service providers. Telecom service providers, the main service from where you get your internet on your smartphone or while using your dongle, are known to be blocking certain websites while offering certain ones for free. The ones blocked are being charged for use, as per actual. Let us explain.

India has no laws governing net neutrality. There are a few violations from certain telecom service providers in India and the TRAI is yet to form a proper guideline for the same.

The internet is supposed to be neutral for all—free to use as they want it, with no governing bodies in between. However, a few telecom providers are said to be heavily lobbying with the TRAI. They are planning to allow them to block certain apps and websites so that they can ‘extort’ more money from consumers and businesses. This is a violation of net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle where Internet Service Providers, be it your local cable operator or your telecom service provider, the government should actually treat all data on the Internet equally. There should be no discrimination or charging inequity on the basis of user, content, website, mobile application or mode of communication. At present, Airtel, Reliance and Tata Docomo are few of the ISPs in India which are lobbying for the same.

In the US, telecom companies attempted the same stunt, but failed due to massive public response against it, till finally, now, breach of net neutrality is completely illegal in the US.

As an example, if you are using electricity, the company will charge us only according to the amount of usage, and not how and which appliance we use. On the same grounds, when it comes to Internet, companies can charge for the service, and the amount of usage and speed. They have no right to charge us according to the websites we visit or apps we use.

Now, if you are using your smartphone to browse the internet and paying for your service accordingly, would you be happy if your telecom service provider gives you free access to Facebook and charges you for using Google Plus or Twitter? Just because one app or website is lobbying with the telecom service provider, why should users pay for it?

The Logical Indian reported that ‘India’s telecom regulator is gearing up to change the relationship between the internet and its users. In a paper it put out last month, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India made it clear that it is all set to allow telecom companies to turn the internet from an all-you-can-eat buffet into an a la carte menu.’

So here is an example what you may see in future, if the TRAI passes the regulation in favour of the telecom companies and not the internet user:

 

  • Internet package for 2G or 3G data per month: Rs 250 or Rs 650 respectively
  • Additional charges for Facebook: Rs 50 per month
  • Additional charges for YouTube: Rs 100 per month
  • Charges for Flipkart, Myntra, etc (shopping websites): Free
  • Charges for Amazon, eBay, FashionForYou, Forever21, etc (Shopping websites): Rs 25 per month each
  • Charges for Skype: Free
  • Charges for WhatsApp Calling, Facebook voice chat (Rs 50 per hour)
  • And so on.

Hence, looking at the above rates, would you be happy with certain websites or apps being free and others being charged? If Airtel charges for Amazon app use and caters to Flipkart for free, would it be fair for a Vodafone user to get charged for Flipkart if these regulations applied? How would you feel if you were in that spot?

The internet is supposed to be neutral for everyone.

 

However, the TRAI is yet to make its final decision. If the decision is made, net neutrality could either be illegal or banished for good.

In the recent news, Airtel had announced additional charges for data consumed when using Skype. Not too far away is WhatsApp voice calling, which could be attacked next. Airtel soon stepped back after flak from users. Flipkart has been lobbying with Airtel too—Airtel Zero was announced where the business paid the telecom service provider to offer users free data access to use their apps. To retaliate, users started getting off Flipkart, uninstalling the app and giving the app a negative review on Google Play Store.

Therefore, in order to get the TRAI create a fair regulation for internet use (net neutrality), citizen of India have got together to defend internet freedom in India. Logon to the website (netneutrality.in), to fight net neutrality. We all have to remind TRAI that their job is to protect the rights of consumers, not the profit margins of telecom industries. The demand is to get access to the free, open internet.

 

- - - Updated - - -

 

Also read:

 

If you still don't know what #NetNeutrality is, then allow the members of AIB to explain it to you

If you still don't know what #NetNeutrality is, then allow the members of AIB to explain it to you - IBNLive

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MANOJ B. PATEL

Apr 14 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)

An Equal Internet





Government and Trai must heed citizens' cry for net neutrality

In response to recent omens that net neutrality is under threat, an energetic citizens' campaign has been gathering strength across digital India. The government must respond by heeding citizenry's call to guarantee rather than dilute net neutrality . In a recent consultation paper the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked for feedback on questions like: What forms of discrimination or “traffic management“ are reasonable and should be permitted? Citizens have answered: don't discriminate.Read more at;

 

An Equal Internet

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW DELHI: Odisha CM Navin Patnaik is the latest to join the chorus supporting net neutrality. Patnaik has written to Trai chairman Rahul Khullar opposing the implications suggested in the regulatory authority's consultation paper.

 

Patnaik has argued that any move to dilute internet freedom would not only lead to economic loss to the booming IT industry but also affect the poor as several services to them are delivered through the internet.Read more at;

Odisha CM Navin Patnaik bats for net neutrality - The Times of India

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW YORK: "Disagreeing" with critics of the zero-rating concept, which allows Facebook-led initiative Internet.org to deliver free basic internet services in several countries including India, its founder Mark Zuckerberg today said universal connectivity and net neutrality "can and must" coexist.Read more at;

 

Facebook CEO joins Internet.Org debate in India - The Times of India

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW DELHI: In the eye of the storm over net neutrality, Bharti Airtel today said it will always provide same treatment to every website and application irrespective of whether they are on its toll free platform or not.

 

Launched last week, Airtel Zero is an open-marketing platform that allows customers to access certain mobile apps for free with charges being borne by the app makers. Read more at;

 

Net neutrality: Airtel CEO sends letter to employees - The Times of India

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jaysinh2

thank you very much sir for sharing this important information.

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MANOJ B. PATEL

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has put out a consultation paper that has brought nearly every internet user in India up in arms against its effort to put restrictions on the internet.

 

The Save The Internet campaign has been launched and only less than a week is left for citizens to register their protest or recommendations with TRAI over the clamp down of their internet rights. Read more at;

 

Is TRAI masking an anti-competition stance behind net neutrality? | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

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MANOJ B. PATEL

For the first time in the history of internet campaigns in India, a protest movement has successfully changed the course of a debate without having to take to the streets. The net neutrality movement is being fought almost totally in the virtual world. Hashtag activism isn't new in India. In recent times, several big campaigns have been bolstered by the internet which helped mobilize mass support and kept people constantly updated on events. Pink Chaddi, Jan Lokpal and the Nirbhaya movements were some examples of successful on-the-ground campaigns that were galvanized by social media. But they still needed public action — dharnas, candlelight vigils and actual pink undies — to make a difference. Read more at;

 

Net neutrality: Net activism packs a punch - The Times of India

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MANOJ B. PATEL

नई दिल्ली: नेट न्यूट्रलिटी के पक्ष में हो-हल्ला जारी रहने के बीच ट्राई चेयरमैन राहुल खुल्लर ने रविवार को कहा, ‘‘चिल्लाने वाले लोग’’ बहस में नहीं जीतेंगे और यह अवधारणा अमेरिका और ब्रिटेन जैसे देशों में भी ‘सख्ती से लागू’ है।

 

इंटरनेट सापेक्षता का सिद्धांत सभी इंटरनेट यातायात के लिए समान व्यवहार की वकालत करता है जिसमें किसी भी व्यक्ति, इकाई या कंपनी के साथ भेदभाव नहीं है।Read more at;

 

http://khabar.ndtv.com/news/india/net-neutrality-trai-says-shrill-voices-wont-win-debate-756310

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW DELHI: As the uproar continues in favour of net neutrality, telecom watchdog Trai chairman Rahul Khullar on Sunday said "shrill voices" will not win the debate and the concept is not "practised strictly" even in countries like the US and the UK. The principle of net neutrality calls for equal treatment to be accorded to all internet traffic, without discrimination or priority for any person, entity or company.Read more at;

 

Shrill voices won?t win net neutrality debate: Trai - The Times of India

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MANOJ B. PATEL

A lot of Indians like the internet the way it is now, going by the snowballing cyber campaign to preserve its neutral character. Email petitions to Trai, asking it not to cede the net to big corporates, have crossed 8 lakhs. IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has voiced his support for a non-discriminatory internet architecture. We hope this means that the government will weigh in on the side of net neutrality and equal access to the internet that’s advocated by netizens. Trai needs to do the same as well.Read more at;

 

No half loaves: Why Mark Zuckerberg’s argument for internet.org sucks - TOI Blogs

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW DELHI: When the whole country is talking about net neutrality and how important retaining it is, one person has come up with a way to show everyone what it will be like to live in a cyberworld without full internet access.

 

Software developer Akshay S Dinesh has released a Mozilla Firefox add-on, named Zero Internet, which will allow users to only use the websites that are part of Facebook's Internet.org, which is against the principles of net neutrality.Read more at;

 

Here?s how life will be without net neutrality - The Times of India

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MANOJ B. PATEL

MPs are apparently being bombarded with e-mails on net neutrality. This was disclosed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) member M. B. Rajesh in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday while urging the government to declare the Internet a public utility.

 

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Mr. Rajesh urged members across the political spectrum to take note of the expectation that the public had from MPs to “act in defence of Net neutrality’’.Read more at;

 

?People expect MPs to defend Net neutrality? - The Hindu

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW DELHI: More than 978,000 e-mails have been sent by India internet users to the Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) supporting the cause of net neutrality.

 

With two days to go before we hit the authority's deadline to receive comments on net neutrality, it's critical that all Indian internet users convey their support for the cause to the Trai. While the Trai had framed a paper comprising of twenty complicated questions surrounding the issue, the folks at Savetheinternet.in created a page with the collection of the best arguments made in favour of net neutrality, in the framework of the authority's consultation paper.Read more at;

 

Net neutrality: It?s now or never - The Times of India

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jj99

think of this tooooooo -----why not Advertisement neutrality so many people watch ads on TV which one can believe that only .percentage buys that remaining are mock watchers wasting time/electricity - depreciating value of so many things

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MANOJ B. PATEL

Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi | Updated: April 22, 2015 7:53 pm

If you’ve been following the Net Neutrality debate in India, it would appear divided into two camps. You are either for Net Neutrality or against, the latter stand hyphenating you with the telecom operators. There is no room for a middle ground. But as a debate held by the Financial Express and FICCI, titled ‘Decoding Net Neutrality’ at the India Habitat Centre, showed, the issue is too complicated to be coloured in black and white.

Here are different voices from the debate:

- See more at: Page not found | The Indian Express

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D.T.RATHAVA

On 10 February 2015, Facebook launched Internet.org in India with Reliance Communications. It aims to provide free access[25] to 38 websites through an app. Only Bing was made available as the search engine.[26] Sunil Mittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel, criticised the concept and said, "If you are going to make the data free, then let's do completely philanthropic projects. Government must make spectrum free, there should be free network, but it is not happening."[27]

 

On 27 March 2015, TRAI released a consultation paper on over-the-top services (OTT) and net neutrality for public feedback.[28][29]

 

In April 2015, Airtel announced the "Airtel Zero" scheme. Under the scheme, app firms sign a contract and Airtel provides the apps for free to its customers.[30] The reports of Flipkart, an e-commerce firm, joining the "Airtel Zero" scheme drew negative response. People began to give the one-star rating to its app on Google Play.[31][32] Following the protests Flipkart decided to pull out of Airtel Zero. The e-commerce firm confirmed the news in an official statement on 14 April, saying, "We will be walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero".[33]

 

A Member of the Parliament from Odisha, Tathagata Satpathy, wrote an open letter to TRAI in support of net neutrality.[34] The Communication and Information Technology Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on 7 April said that a committee will be formed to study the net neutrality issue.[35] Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a Member of the Parliament, had also supported net neutrality.[36] The Competition Commission of India (CCI) chairman, Ashok Chawla, said that they were examining whether these practices were unfair.[37] The Department of Telecommunication also said that they were investigating the matter.[36]

 

On 11 April 2015, the popular YouTube (channel) videos producer All India Bakchod uploaded a video titled "Save The Internet" which urged people to email TRAI demanding net neutrality. The video was re-shared on Twitter by numerous netizens and various Indian actors.[38] Cleartrip.com, the Times Group, NewsHunt and NDTV pulled out of the Facebook initiated Internet.org expressing their support to Net Neutrality. However, Mark Zuckerberg defended Internet.org in an interview to Hindustan Times saying, "Net neutrality is not in conflict with working to get more people connected. We will never prevent people accessing other services, and we will not use fast lanes."[39] Net neutrality in India - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW DELHI: Senior faculty members of top educational institutions of the country, including IITs and IISc, have come out in support of the cause of net neutrality.

 

Around 50 faculty members from India's top institutions have issued a joint statement countering arguments included in Trai's consultation paper that focus on why network neutrality must be compromised or weakened. The statement substantiates the counter arguments with different examples to conclude that there are no sound technical or economic reasons to violate net neutrality in the country.Read more at;

IIT, IISc professors join the fight for net neutrality - The Times of India

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MANOJ B. PATEL

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has confirmed that it has received over a millions emails in support of net neutrality from the country's netizens. This the biggest-ever response the country has ever seen for such a social campaign.Read more at:

 

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Sumit088

Hello,

 

We have been listening nowadays regarding net neutrality, as we may have to pay extra for browsing specific sites as per ISP rates and that may be controlled as per ISP. But my doubt/question is "same way Telephone operator also charges us for rate cutters and there are different rate cutters for different plans"(calling on net local, on net STD, off net local, off net STD, landline, browsing, 30p, 1.5p/2sec. Here also Telephone operators are also charging the same way. Can anything be done about this neutrality"??

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MANOJ B. PATEL

Welcome to RTI INDIA PORTAL. Thank you for choosing RTI INDIA PORTAL.

 

Please click the following link and read through the topics:

 

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Please do not post in to multiple forums or start multiple threads. You need to study links on home page of this website and then start drafting RTI for common problem of specific issues etc. You can post draft RTI application on this portal so that our members can refine it. Thus you will be having working knowledge of RTI over a period of time. Please also visit this website often and peruse queries and replies by our members, which will make you comfortable with RTI.

 

Dear Member, in addition,

 

If you are interested in reading the whole RTI Act please go to the following link:

 

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To explore about RTI kindly refer following links

 

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koteswararaonerella

TRAI is only meant for protecting the INTERESTS OF PRIVATE TELECOM OPERATORS and not for public/customers and most of their RECOMMENDATIONS you can see from beginning are controversial a not customer friendly.So you need to pay in future if the propsal of AIR-Tel is accepted

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