Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured that the government will be releasing its report on Net Neutrality “very soon”. Speaking with media in the capital on Saturday, he said that the government is waiting for regulator TRAI to place its findings before the government.
TRAI has been without a chief since the tenure of Rahul Khullar got over on May 13, 2015.
The government is yet to appoint its successor though Prasad also added that an appointment would be made soon.
Net Neutrality is a contentious issue and has been hotly debated by netizens over the last few months. The concept of Net Neutrality at its very basic entails that the internet will be free and open to everyone with no preference to one service provider over another.
The matter came to a head when Airtel launched its controversial Airtel Zero platform, which would have allowed marketers to pay for customers coming to their app/service over an Airtel connection. Following a huge public outrage, many brands like Flipkart, Cleartrip, NDTV, etc. decided against being a part of the platform.
Over the following weeks, more than 1 million emails supporting Net Neutrality were sent to TRAI.
Facebook’s Internet.org also came under criticism and finally Founder Mark Zuckerberg had to announce that the platform would be open for everyone.
Along with the decision on Net Neutrality, both the government and TRAI also have to announce their plans for the related issue of OTT or Over-The-Top services, which are services provided over the internet. Typical examples of these include Whatsapp, Spuul, Hotstar, etc. Telcos have long wanted to curb these services claiming they eat into revenues without paying any fees. In April, TRAI had released a consultation paper asking for opinions for need of a framework for OTT in India. TRAI has yet to release their recommendations regarding this though the mushrooming OTT industry in the country is understandably unhappy about any potential rules and regulations.