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Telecom Regulator Says Consultation Paper was Not on Net Neutrality

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday said the consultation paper it had issued earlier this week was not on net neutrality but had sought views of stakeholders on a specific matter of differential pricing for data services offered by operators.
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Telecom Regulator Says Consultation Paper was Not on Net Neutrality
New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday said the consultation paper it had issued earlier this week was not on net neutrality but had sought views of stakeholders on a specific matter of differential pricing for data services offered by operators.

Differential pricing, however, is seen by some as part of the overall debate on net neutrality, a principle against any priority being accorded to an entity in internet traffic flow on account of payments made to service providers such as telecom companies.

"We are saying that it is a specific issue which we have raised, that may be a part of net neutrality... This is a specific problem which has come to the notice of TRAI and we are consulting the stakeholders as to what their views are," TRAI Chairman R S Sharma said at an event here.

Amid debate over zero-rating plans and telecom firms offering discounted tariffs for accessing certain websites, TRAI on Wednesday came out with a consultation paper seeking views if such differential pricing should be allowed.

When asked why was it issuing papers on net neutrality in parts, Sharma said the regulatory had not issued any paper on net neutrality as such.

He said there are examples which have happened in the recent past where content providers and telecom service providers (TSPs) have tied-up, and it is being proposed that if their content goes via the telecom companies' pipes or networks, then there will be free or near free data charges.

"Effectively what has happened is that telecom companies in a way are creating a differential pricing regime for different websites, so that is the question which we have asked in the consultation paper whether it is appropriate or not," Mr Sharma said.

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