Internet has become so vast, and each of us communicate with each other through the Internet, using one or the other platforms. SMS is long gone now, isn’t it? It is more about using apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and such alternatives for people to talk to each other and express their views. The fight for Net Neutrality is exactly related to this – open and free communication, without clauses and forced rules.
What is Net Neutrality – In the simplest words
Almost the same as equality. When you are paying a network provider some amount to access the Internet, you should be entitled to access all websites and all content without any hidden extra charges for something in particular.
Here’s an example to make it easier to understand. You buy milk from a store, and are paying a certain amount for that. No one ever comes to check what you are doing with it. Tea, Paneer, Curd or anything else. It is your wish, as you have paid for the milk. Now, imagine the store or the company who sells the milk, checking out what you are making from it. If milk was Rs. 50 a litre, you will be asked Rs. 50 more if you made paneer, Rs. 20 more if you made tea and Rs. 30 more if you made curd. Why should he charge you more? You already paid for the milk, right? That is something what the outrage is all about, for net neutrality. You will be charged for anything and everything, and not just the data connection like you are paying for right now.
There is another scenario to this. Speed of access. The website you are getting for a website right now, can change later on. The websites/services that are in deal with the network operator, will be accessible with good speed, but other websites will be slow because the network provider has chosen to keep it slow. It will be available at the same fast speed if you are paying higher, or if the website owner is dealing with the provider with monetary compensation.
What is common and neutral to all right now, is Electricity. You are paying per unit consumed. Imagine if the board comes and checks your house, and charges you extra for turning AC on, or for using washing machines, or even for using a hair dryer. Why are you already being charged for electricity when you have extra charges for just using it?
If you are paying a certain amount for getting a data pack of 2GB from your service provider, only you WILL choose where to spend that bandwidth, and the network provider who charged you for it, should not decide what you CAN do with it. That is possible, only if net neutrality exists in India. A few other nations have already implemented this, and a major name in that – USA.
Current Situation – What are network providers trying to do
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is still to decide on this, but the network providers are trying to lobby TRAI on this, and make sure subscribers are charged for mostly anything they do apart from simple web browsing. If you have been using your data connection to make video calls or voice calls through Skype, you will be charged extra for that. If WhatsApp calls are being made, they are considered as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and thus will be charged extra. Thus, is all the fear that we are going to get nothing for what we pay, if TRAI accepts these rules from network operators.
Currently, TRAI has given some time, till 24th April to understand how strongly the Internet users community is going against these harsh decisions. They want words from people on why Net Neutrality is required, and why shouldn’t they allow network providers to make money off everything that is done on the Internet.
Who is to blame?
Airtel has taken the first step, and it is for sure that the other network providers will follow it later on. But right now, the scene is clear with the Airtel Zero platform created, where the data charges will be given by the end app developers / owners, and the user doesn’t need to pay anything for it.
Many might think, how is this against Net Neutrality? in the end, user is getting access to Airtel Zero based apps for free, right? That is the big problem – any other apps or websites, which are not a part of Airtel Zero, could be accessed by paying a higher amount. Or, if you are able to open the applications that are on Airtel Zero in about 10 seconds, some other app that is not a part of this, might take over 30 seconds to open. Because, Airtel will give those apps on advantage of speed if they are on Airtel Zero platform.
This isn’t net neutrality in this way, and on the other way as well – because when you cannot charge a premium amount for some websites or apps, you cannot give access to them for free as well. If you are allowing free access to only a certain number of services, how is that being *neutral*?
Also, it is *Airtel* right now, and the scene could be the same with all the network carriers sooner or later. Airtel is blamed as it has been doing these things, even tried to start charging for VoIP calls until outrage from people made them withdraw the plan.
What can we do for Net Neutrality
The service providers like Airtel are afraid of losing more revenue when VoIP calls and such become a big thing in India, thus are taking steps already to keep the inflow on money regular as always, but TRAI has not taken any drastic step, and are waiting to debate on this and understand how the users in India react to this.
What we can do, is to email TRAI about this, and let them know we are in support of Net Neutrality, and violation of this will be a serious bad impact on the Internet usage in India. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org and show your support for Net Neutrality.
Visit SavetheInternet.in and you will see a drafted mail you can directly send, and it just has exactly what you might want to tell in support of Neutrality.