India to enforce net neutrality, says government telecoms chief

India to enforce net neutrality, says government telecoms chief

The Indian government is to change operators’ telecoms licences to enforce net neutrality, with only certain critical services allowed fast lanes.

Aruna Sundararajan, India’s telecom secretary and chair of the Telecom Commission, said yesterday that the government has accepted in full the recommendations put forward in November 2017 by the regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

“All recommendations of Trai on net neutrality have been accepted,” she said. “Its core principles will be followed except in the case of critical services where you need to prioritise certain kinds of traffic.”

She will consult with Trai to determine what those critical services are, but accepted that this is a “very evolving framework” and this will not be a fixed determination. Content delivery networks will not be included in the definition.

All operators will be banned from blocking content or slowing it down, said Sundararajan.

The Telecom Commission that Sundararajan chairs is a decision-making body in the government’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT). It has accepted Trai’s recommendations in full.

At the same time the Telecom Commission took two further significant decisions for the industry in India. First, it accepted the government’s national digital communications policy, which should see investment of $100 billion by 2022. The Indian government will consider the policy by the end of July.

And she said that the forthcoming merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular will help to stabilise the telecoms market in India. “We would like to see that the merger is completed at the earliest, because we too want the sector is stabilised,” she said. “This is an important step for stabilising the sector.”

There are still “certain formalities” before the merger can be completed. However the Department of Telecom gave its approval to the merger on Monday.

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