TRAI issues net neutrality consultation papers

20 May 2016 | Jason McGee-Abe


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued consultation papers on “free data” and “issues related to quality of services in digital addressable system and consumer protection”.

Free data consultation paper 

TSP TRAITRAI prohibited discriminatory tariffs for data services on February 08, 2016. However during the consultation process the question of whether were alternative technologies or business models, other than differentiated tariff plans, available to achieve the objective of providing free internet access to the consumers.

The paper looks into options to facilitate free access to certain websites/contents and explores “model(s) that could achieve the benefits of offering free data while avoiding the ingenuity that the Differential Tariff Regulation is meant to prevent”, says TRAI. 

The main issues are:

- Is there a need to have a TSP agnostic platform to provide free data or suitable reimbursement to users, without violating the principles laid out in February?

- Whether such platforms need to be regulated by the TRAI or market be allowed to develop these platforms?

- Whether free data or suitable reimbursement to users should be limited to mobile data users only or could it be extended through technical means to subscribers of fixed line broadband or leased line?

You can find the free data consultation paper here and TRAI has invited comments from stakeholders by June 16, 2016. 

Quality of Services (QoS) consultation paper

TRAI has been issuing QoS regulations to protect consumers for multiple delivery platforms such as cable TV, DTH, HITS and IPTV, but this paper seeks to address the need to provide comprehensive QoS regulations for digital addressable system to facilitate competition, transparency and growth. With the increase usage of ICT in everyday life, service providers can deploy various online platforms for improving the QoS. The introduction of electronic payment, online subscription of service, web-enabled complaint redressal mechanism, etc. will go a long way in improving customer experience.

The main issues are:

- To develop unified regulatory framework for addressable TV platforms (DTH, cable TV, HITS, IPTV) for QoS and consumer protection.

- To make consumers aware of the choices of services, terms and conditions of services, and providing ease of subscription.

- To simplify complaint booking and speedy redressal of complaints.

- To ensure orderly growth and level playing field for overall development of the broadcasting sector.

- To encourage use of modern ICTs for improving QoS and providing better quality of experience to consumers.

You can find the QoS consultation paper here and TRAI has invited comments from stakeholders by June 17, 2016. 

The news comes two days after TRAI had announced it was to start a net neutrality pre-consultation.