What is Net Neutrality and why should we care?

Forget about Deepika Padukone and her choices, we have all moved on since then. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) must have strategically timed the consultation report release and contest period. Or they just got lucky. Either way, amidst all our attention on Women Empowerment, there were some who were watching out for other social issues as well. And here, I’m doing my bit by sharing my thoughts on – The Net Neutrality.

The internet is a wonderful thing. It has empowered humanity with instant information by shrinking the periphery of access to vast amounts of information and social reach. Mankind has traveled through – endless journey on foot to relying on stronger animal species for transportation to wired calls to high-speed wireless internet. Think for a second, if we ever had to live in a world where some affluent classes had access to social media and video streaming sites and some unfortunate classes grew up without internet because they couldn’t afford; Reminds me of the Hunger games.

We have come a long way to establish equality in our society and abolish the class system. We cannot go back. Internet is no longer a luxury, it is a utility now. Just like electricity, water and gas. Think if the petroleum companies began selling petrol and diesel based on what car you owned or electricity providers started controlling what devices could get electricity and with what watt power?

It is same with the internet. Service providers earn more than enough from just the connections and usage. In fact, in recent years, due to rise in smartphones and use of wireless internet, telecom companies have posted record profits. Industry experts say that the increase in data usage is going to benefit telecom services in coming decades as well.  So, the fact that Telecom Regulatory Authority of India – TRAI –  states, the telecom companies are losing money due to OTT (Over The Top) applications, which bypass the service providers, is actually false.

The Internet has thrived because of its freedom and openness—the absence of any entity controlling speed, price or access conditions for a particular network online.  Consumers and innovators do not have to seek permission before they use the Internet to launch new technologies, start businesses, connect with friends, or share their views.  The Internet is a level playing field.  Consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what content they want to access, create, or share with others.  This openness promotes competition.  It also enables a self-reinforcing cycle of investment and innovation in which new uses of the network lead to increased adoption of broadband, which drives investment and improvements in the network itself, which in turn lead to further innovative uses of the network and further investment in content, applications, services, and devices.

It is believed that the internet giants are not very keen on net neutrality because it isn’t a big deal for them to throw some money at these telecom companies to keep their sites accessible and at high speeds at all times. It is the smaller, newer companies that will suffer. It is not just a matter of paying for access, it will have severe repercussions on the overall trade and business landscape. Today if you decide to start a video streaming venture; you have your technology and all you have to think of is how to reach your audience. If we let telecom companies govern the services, you will be sure to face a bidding war against your competitor only to lose eventually. You are a budding company with limited resources fighting against an established company that has money at its disposal. The only ones winning this war would be the telecom companies who will make money from all.

Telecom companies are trying to secure hafta from companies that use the internet as well as the users who access it. The only result of supporting TRAI in this endeavor will result in making a handful of people very rich, so they would need no more 2G scams but will openly extort us all.

Check out the links below to learn more about Net Neutrality and show your support here –  http://www.savetheinternet.in

Net Neutrality – Explained by Common Craft

AIB : Save The Internet

Sources –
India telecoms sector ready to ring in new era
Consultation Paper On Regulatory Framework for Over- the – top (OTT) services
FCC Report & Order

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