Amid continuing debate over net neutrality, TRAI Chairman R S Sharma today said the regulator would firm up its position on the issue in a couple of months. The telecom regulator is now processing nearly 1.8 million comments received on the consultation paper pertaining to the regulatory framework for OTT (Over the Top) players like WhatsApp and Skype as well as on net neutrality.
Against the backdrop of debate on net neutrality, the government had said that it would take a structured view on the matter after getting the TRAI report. “We had a large number of comments, 1.8 million to be precise, and these comments are being processed. Simultaneously, the Department of Telecom also brought out a paper on net neutrality on which some comments were received.
“So, essentially we will take this entire debate forward and in a couple of months we will be able to firm up the position on net neutrality,” Sharma said here. He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Skoch summit.
Net neutrality implies that equal treatment be accorded to all Internet traffic and no priority be given to an entity or company based on payment to content or service providers such as telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory. The debate on net neutrality was sparked off a few months ago after some telecom operators and Internet companies came up with plans that offer preferential treatment in using the Internet.
Earlier, a Department of Telecom (DoT) panel had suggested a ‘regulatory framework’ for Internet calls. The suggestions of the panel, if implemented, may lead to free calls offered by apps like Skype and WhatsApp coming to an end. The panel has proposed regulation of domestic calls on Internet-based apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Viber by putting them on par with services offered by telecom operators.
In July, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that DoT panel report was not the final view of the government and a “structured” decision would be taken only after looking into views of all stakeholders. “After the TRAI report, we will take a structured view. Thereafter, Cabinet will take a final decision,” he had said.