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Net Neutrality: Why You Should Support It

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Do you think that an odd bunch of 'Net Neutrality' activists are trying to spoil your chances of using apps/websites for free? I suggest that one should not get carried away with such luring promises from telecom companies in this competitive world. Online products for free isn't a marketing gimmick, charity or technical advancement that you saw with the launch of CDMA phones/service providers a few years ago where you were given a chance to chat around with your loved ones all night long at dead cheap rates. Consider it like mouse trap wherein you are given a bait of free internet to snatch away your online freedom.

You think I am being crude with my words against the so called Free Internet providers, please try to understand the whole game plan in detail for your own good.

The story starts off with telcos lobbying with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to pass a new regulation to provide them rights to charge the OTT Service Providers (read all Apps and Websites). This charge is proposed in lieu of investment they have put in infrastructure required to provide internet, but wait aren't they already charging the consumers for that through fees for data usage. Oh, so now you think that they are moving the burden of internet cost from our shoulders to OTT Service Providers. No buddy it's not that simple, it is like you're hiring a cab to a new restaurant in town but instead the cab driver takes you to a place of his choice where the drivers are given some benefit. Similarly, these rights of putting charges on OTT service providers will open an avenue for Telcos to discriminate between the online content providers as per their own commercial benefits.

This will directly affect your online experience wherein products of some big companies that are able to provide money to network providers will run faster whereas others will run relatively slow. We already know that our choice of online service provider is hugely dependent on swiftness of the product as slow internet is even worse than no internet. Therefore, this change not only affects your rationale of trying a competing product but also kills the aspirations of new start-ups who are looking forward to making it big on the internet.

We all have seen how technology companies have made their presence felt in the world economy. India, inspired by this transformation of financially deprived tech founders into new business tycoons of the world, is already a home to thousands of new tech/digital start-ups. Indian economy has also benefitted with huge international investments in this hyper growth inflection point for the Indian start-up ecosystem, with growth, capital and acquisitions all coming together creating a perfect storm. Hence, net discrimination between OTT service providers by Telcos will enormously affect the potential of any new and fascinating start-up which could have been another trend changer.

Cherry on top of this bitter cake is Telcos currently promising that they will not discriminate between content providers but it just sounds like a mouse promising to take care of your cheese. These Telcos aren't charitable government run companies working for the betterment of the society, they exist for conducting business. So, basing any new TRAI regulation on these promises that are in clear contradiction with interests of Telcos doesn't sound to be good idea.

In case your opinion on the Free Internet pit has changed, I urge you to extend your support to the fight for Net Neutrality by visiting 'www.savetheinternet.in' and sharing your response with TRAI till 24 April 2015.

The author is Piyush Paul, Founder & Director, Unlockar App Pvt. Ltd


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