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#SaveTheInternet vs. #SaveTheTelecoms

Published on Thu, Apr 16,2015 | 20:17, Updated at Thu, Apr 16 at 20:25Source : Moneycontrol.com |   Watch Video :

#SaveTheInternet -  It's a campaign that has received the support of over 6 lakh Indians (and counting…). This after telecom regulator TRAI issued a consultation paper raising 2 important issues. Should OTT or Over-The-Top services, such as Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook and any such apps and sites, be regulated by the TRAI? And should telecom companies be allowed to charge more for such apps, over and above the regular data charges incurred for accessing the internet on a phone. These questions have raised several concerns about equal access to the internet - referred to as net neutrality. The debate has prompted Flipkart to decline the Airtel Zero platform and also prompted several media groups to withdraw from Internet.org.

The key issues in today’s debate are

  1. Can, should and will the TRAI succeed in regulating websites and apps? Does the TRAI hope to license them, register them, charge them fees? Will the internet in India became another ‘babudom’?
  2. Don’t telecom companies already charge for data usage? The TRAI paper says they earn less via data usage than in traditional telephony, but there is no suggestion that data is a loss-making service? So is this debate only about protecting telecom companies’ profits?
  3. A level playing field is desirable…but should telecom companies argue to reduce their regulatory burden instead of arguing that ‘www’ be regulated? For instance why is the Govt still insisting on revenue share despite spectrum now being sold at competitive, auction determined rates?
  4. If a telecom company is allowed to charge extra for Skype, Whatsapp and other such communication apps, then won’t their own versions of these apps ie Wynk, Jio Chat…be at an advantage?
  5. For years cable operators & have charged both consumers and broadcasters…instead of regulating such behavior the TRAI wants to determine whether you sms or whatsapp?

Joining the debate on CNBC TV18 are Nikhil Pahwa, Founder, Medianama (Nikhil has led the #SaveTheInternet campaign) and  former COAI official TV Ramachandran (speaking on behalf of telecom companies)

 
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