A problem of plenty, or a problem of scanty?

28th Oct, 2015

| by writesolutions

And….the ensuing debate over net-neutrality that has worked India’s internet-savvy community into a tizzy

Shabda Pawar

Internet allows people to connect and exchange information freely, i.e. if the information being traded is not illegal, or with respect to the Indian media market (Please don’t laugh) – “immoral.”

Other weightier concerns are not so significant.

Net neutrality is a lofty idea that drives home the point that as media consumers, individuals should have free access to all content types and applications, regardless of the source of the information or the medium of distribution. Net neutrality implies that Mobile and Internet Service providers cannot discriminate against specific online services or websites, only because they do not have a business link-up with certain content creators, curators and distributors/publishers.   In other words, it is the principle that the company that connects you to the internet does not get to control what you do on the internet.

In short, internet providers are required to treat all traffic sources equally.

They can only function and conduct business as the “gatekeepers of the web” and cannot (or rather should not) determine what content type can be shared with what user community based on the ISP’s vested business interests, which is what might happen if the Reliance (Jiyo)-and Airtel’s Zero products or Tata Docomo’s and Idea Cellular’s ‘pay per site’ model gets rolled out into the Indian market. The regulator (In this case, Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as always, is debating the issue, and lagging behind the change).

The flip side of the coin – and don’t be hoodwinked by the full-page ads and ‘engaging’ videos being put out for mass consumption by the likes of Facebook and its ambitious Internet.org project (Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkJBki29Qho to get a handle on the debate that’s currently rocking the boat in the developing world).

Because what is on offer is not an even play. The internet/mobile service providers are aggressively marketing their wares and deals by showing how it massively benefits the rural communities, without touching upon the more controversial subject of what harm it may do, if it peddles only a certain kind of content. That’s what’s been happening with the electronic (TV) industry for decades with the advertisers monopolistic Reliance (pun intended) on Kantar Media’s TAM scores, and even an autonomous agency like Prasar Bharati has been unable to prevent it.  The same now threatens to happen with the online media.

The argument on net neutrality is that we should receive the certain level of service that we subscribed for. All data streams should flow through as fast as possible and not be restricted by anyone, except the subscriber who is paying for the service. By inspecting the packets and prioritizing certain content services and lowering other’s priority, the latter services would be discriminated against and that would amount to short charging the end user.

Read Write Solution’s earlier blog post on the same subject- http://writesolutions.co/blog/pray-what-is-net-neutrality/ and rush us your comments.

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Radhika Sachdev

Content Strategist

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