NET NEUTRALITY EXPLAINED BETTER ……..

By S. Raghul

 

‘Net Neutrality ‘ was the buzz word all over the country a month back . There was a great opposition to TRAI(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India )  for approving policies  that  denied net neutrality . But what exactly is net neutrality ?

There are several faces to net neutrality and cannot be defined in one single way . To put it simply net neutrality could be understood that all websites on the internet are provided to the customers equally by the ISP  without any  preference or charging separately  to access  any particular online website or service .

3FACE 1 :

You would be given a free set of websites and services ( say 30 sites )  which you can access  through internet.org  without paying anything for that data . Sounds cool , right ? Then why did people oppose vehemently to this idea ?

The ISPs announced this scheme as their  policy for extending internet services to the economically and geographically backward areas of the country . But always remember that whenever some service is given for free , the end user is made the product . But how ??

As  I said each ISP would be giving you a set of websites for free , you will tend to incline yourself only towards those websites and services for all your online needs .

Consider  three ISPs X, Y and Z . Assume that each ISP ties up with a webite/service in each domain in order to offer the customers that particular website free of cost .

 

E- commerce sector :

ISP X – Dlipkart 

ISP Y – SnapTeal

ISP Z– mamazon.in

 

Mail services sector :

ISP X – Gmall

ISP Y – Dediff mail

ISP Z – Tahoo mail

 

So if you used ISP X , you would be charged zero for using Dlipkart services whereas for ISP Y customers  using snapteal would cost them nil and ISP Z customers charged nil  for using mamazon .

So now for an ISP X customer , the natural choice would be Dlipkart and so on . So the end users are IMPOSED to use a particular service as it is given free of cost .

Moreover  Dlipkart , snapteal and  mamazon will benefit as each ISP customers will now be forced to use their services respectively .

ISPs too would receive money from these e-commerce companies for endorsing their services by offering them free of cost  (tie – up ) and ISPs would also gain customers if they offered tie ups with most preferred companies .

But users are left in a lurch . You are made to buy a product from a particular website and it will limit your choices and varieties .

4This does not stop with just tie ups with e-commerce website , but extends to mail services , social networking websites , trade websites like etc.

FACE 2  :

From the backward people point of view , the name internet.org will initially  give perception to the first – time net users that only those free websites form the internet and nothing else exists on the net . Moreover , if they come to know that more (and better services than the free services) exist on the net, they will now start using data packs for accessing the remaining internet world .

This is nothing but making the less fortunate taste internet and  tempt them into depending the internet adversely .

This situation could easily arise even if ISPs suddenly withdraw their zero data plan after a few months or years .

 

5FACE 3 –

Some ISPs  would go an extra mile and come up with schemes like even if you subscribed to data packs  , you would have to pay extra for essential and popular services like Facebook , Whatsapp , Gmail, Youtube , Twitter , etc .

6ISPs reason for this scheme :

Till 3 – 4 years back , people relied on SMS for instant messaging and ISPs earned huge bucks through SMS boosters alone . Now everybody has started using online messaging apps like  Whatsapp and Viber .

You may argue that you still have to subscribe to data packs for these online messaging services .

But it is estimated that 1mb of  SMS data gave ISPs a profit of INR 1600 and 1mb of voice data provides a profit of INR 5-6  whereas 1mb of internet data hardly  fetches them INR 1-2 .

 

So you cannot entirely blame the ISPs for defying net neutrality . But ISPs need to understand that this is the transition period from phone calls to internet communication .Once this transition gets over , everybody will start using internet and they will not have any dips in their profit . So ISPs  have to wait patiently  for this transition . Will they ??

Only time will tell !!!

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