Govt extends deadline for comments on net neutrality to Aug 20

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New Delhi, Aug 15: Government today extended the deadline for submission of public comments on the proposed policy framework for 'net neutrality' till August 20. There has been a sudden surge in public comments on the proposed framework and the submission of views was earlier scheduled to close today.

"Last date for submission of suggestions and comments on report of committee on Net Neutrality through discussion forum under MyGov.in has been extended till August 20, 2015," the Department of Telecom said in a notice on its website.

Internet

The total number of public comments on the net neutrality recommendations by a panel set up by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has risen to over 33,600, from just around 700 on August 14. The surge was seen following campaigns by online groups like Save The Internet and AIB.

TRAI in April had received over 1 million comments on its paper over net neutrality with majority demanding implementation of ideal net neutrality. Net neutrality calls for equal treatment to all Internet traffic without any priority treatment to an entity or company on the basis of payment for content or service providers such as telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory.

The panel has proposed regulation of domestic calls through Internet-based apps like Skype, Whatsapp and Viber by putting them on par with services offered by telecom operator. However, the committee has suggested a liberal approach to app-based international calls.

The pricing difference is around 12.5 times in the case of a voice call and 16 times for messages between services offered by telecom operators and OTT players, as per data put together by telecom regulator TRAI. The debate picked up in India following telecom major Bharti Airtel announcing a plan to separately charge for VoIP calls at standard rates. Based on standard rates, usage of each GB of data for VoIP on 3G network would have costed about Rs 4,000, while the same on 2G network would cost about Rs 10,000.

Airtel was then selling 1GB of 3G data for Rs 249 and 1 GB of 2G internet for Rs 175. The company withdrew separate charge plan following protest from public. The debate further heated up after Airtel launched a zero rating platform, which allowed free access of those websites who paid for joining the platform. The government will firm up regulations on the issue after considering public opinion and telecom regulator The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) suggestions.

PTI

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