24th March 2015 was officially the last day to submit one’s comments and feedback about Net Neutrality to TRAI – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Over a million messages and emails have been forwarded and sent to TRAI in a bid to save the internet. What the concerned authority and government finally decides to do will be extremely exciting to watch. The netizens of our great nation are in mood to go down without a fight but unfortunately the telecom operators and ISPs are gung ho about killing Net Neutrality for good.
In a move which makes their intentions crystal clear, the COAI that is Cellular Operators Association of India, has subtly opposed the important principle of Net Neutrality. In what cannot be a coincidence, COAI launched www.sabkainternet.in in a bid to make their voice heard. COAI members have claimed that this is an initiative from their end to connect the otherwise unconnected people of India to internet.
In what seemed like an exact repeat of their initial narrative, the latest initiative by COAI is absolutely and completely in favour of Net Neutrality. But there is a catch; www.sabkainternet.in seamlessly inculcates the concepts of zero ratings in it and makes a pitch for similar treatment of mobile service providers and ‘Voice Over Internet Protocol’ service providers. COAI couldn’t possibly have emphasized anymore the need to treat similar services with similar rules. What they meant was that services like Viber and Skype should also be chargeable like phone calls and licensing fee should be shelled by such providers just like mobile operators.
COAI has claimed that they care immensely about the freedom people have to access the internet whichever way they deem fit and also do whatever they want. People should also have the freedom to choose technology, device and access platform which suits them the best. COAI has also claimed that no differential rates, access charges or preferential treatment of any kind will be extended to any website.
But the real motive behind the launch of internet.org, Airtel Zero and Sabka internet was also clearly mentioned by the authority. They stated that telecom operators have spent a fortune in acquiring licenses, spectrum, infrastructure amongst others, and their balance sheets are bleeding red as a result. The revenues are way lower than the costs incurred. COAI raised the need to protect them as well and create a sustainable industry where everyone profits.
Everybody heard the message of COAI loud and clear. Imagine paying moolah for Skype which is free almost all over the world, being able to access a few websites for free but paying a bomb in order to access others, and forget absolutely about downloading stuff from the net – it will become a thing of the past.
So decide for yourself what you want to do. You want to help telecom operators in raking plenty of moolah or do you want to protect your privacy and access to a neutral internet. So raise your voice now to save the internet, it is the need of the hour.