I am asking you to bear with me for but 3 short minutes. This is a considerably important matter affecting every one of us who use the internet.
Though most of us are aware about the recent net neutrality row we continue to ignore it mainly due to the complex nature in which the issue has been addressed in most media platforms and websites. So I have tried my best to keep it simple so that all of you are able to understand the seriousness of the situation.
We all use the internet, right? This service is provided to us by the numerous Internet Service Providers or ISP's for short, such as airtel, !dea, MTS, and others.
Your service provider does not restrict your visiting any website and the flow of data and content is theoretically same for Youtube or Facebook as the case may be .You are at the liberty to access any website of your choice without interference from your service provider. This is possible because of 'Net Neutrality'.
What happens if Net Neutrality is abolished?
If Net Neutrality is abolished in India, then your accessing websites will depend on your net pack. For example, your traditional ₹500 net pack allows you access all the websites unconditionally. You having a working data packet connection is the only requirement. It’s something like electricity where you pay for the Power used regardless of which appliance you use.
However, if at all Net Neutrality is abolished; you will b allowed to access only CERTAIN websites and not all in your ₹500 net pack. You will have to pay more if you are to be granted access international websites. Are you willing to pay more?
Imagine paying ₹0.80 for every message you send on WhatsApp. Or ₹4.50 for every minute you spend on Skype. Sounds insane? Well it so happens that this 'insane', 'unreal' thing is very real and might turn out to be reality in just about 2 months from now. You pay, your website owner pays and yet the communication between the two of you is chipped.
Moreover, The ISPs also earn the right to charge variable rates for websites in order to ensure high speed data flow restricted only for those websites. If the websites do not pay, then they will take a longer time to open because the data flow will be delayed by the providers.
Net Neutrality in India: Technically, in India Net Neutrality does not exist. But the ISPs of our country have mostly followed this because it was the standard. But lately, due to increased usage of OTTs such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype where you communicate free of cost the telecom providers are seeing a decrease in profits due to the decreased usage of the traditional calling and texting applications. To make up for this 'loss of market', the proposed abolition of Net Neutrality. In view of the increasing internet communication, TRAI had invited comments and opinions pertaining to this from industries and stakeholders in back 2006 but no formal rules were formed to uphold and enforce Net Neutrality.
This is not the first time an attempt to curb the freedom of internet users has been made. When USA based FCC attempted to do the same a couple of years ago, 40 lakh people came forward and extended their support to the small voice speaking against it. That is in a country housing a population of just 31.8 crores. Now just imagine what we, with a strength of 125.2 crores can do!
What should YOU do to save the internet?
Imagine waking up to a world where this 'insanity' is a reality and grumble about not knowing it beforehand. And then learning that you could have done something about it! TRAI has released a set of 20 Questions and is seeking your opinions and suggestions regarding Net Neutrality and the regulation of OTTs. The questions can be found on pages 113 to 116 of the official consultation paper at http://www.trai.gov.in/WriteReaddata/ConsultationPaper/Document/OTT-CP- 27032015.pdf. The answers can be sent in an email to advqos@ trai.gov.in on or before 24th April, 2015.
With this issue taking the country by storm much awaited help has come from all quarters. With celebs like Vishal Dandlani, Danish Aslam among others supporting the cause and socially aware techies like Ajit Johnson and Martin Nainthani giving it their all to educate people about this, India has come a long way. And yes, one cannot forget the efforts of online media platforms such as The Logical Indian for their widespread awareness programs. As of the day before yesterday 1.5 lakh of the 24 crore internet users have mailed the TRAI. This is encouraging, but not enough. Make sure every one of you and your friends gives a logical and befitting answer to the TRAI as to why we need net neutrality. We control the internet. Let's keep it that way! And yes, share or tweet using #IndiaWantsNetNeutrality so that it remains trending.
Turns out we have only two options in front of us. Spend 5 minutes today and ensure net neutrality is here to stay. Or sit for the rest of our days grumbling about insanely high internet prices! Save the internet! The internet needs YOU!
Shrinidhi with Navaneeth