To monitor and investigate whether service providers are adhering to the rules, the regulator also suggested that a multi-stakeholder body be set up, led by industry, and comprising members representing different telecom and Internet service providers, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.
This recommendation would restrict any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content because of telecom regulators entering into partnerships with third party platforms like Flipkart, Amazon or Netflix.
The Trai's support for net neutrality came at a time when a debate is raging over US Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai's recent proposal to dismantle the 2015 rules, which require ISPs (internet service providers) to treat all content travelling through their pipes equally. Even as telecom regulators around the globe are pushing the world towards a non-neutral internet, TRAI has been doing its bit to keep the internet free of discriminatory practices. "No one owns Internet, so, it should be open and accessible to everyone", Sharma said.
"Networks should not prefer one content over other.should not block or offer fast lane (to certain content)", he said.
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This is at odds with the USA regulator, which seems to be moving towards dismantling rules on net neutrality.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has upheld the principle of an open internet and recommended that internet service providers (ISPs) should be prohibited from discriminating between their web traffic by either blocking some apps, websites and services or by offering "fast lanes" to those who pay for the privilege.
The recommendations follow a consultation process that lasted for over a year, after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sought TRAI's views on the issue in March 2016, with an aim to "finalise a viewpoint" on net neutrality.
Now, the Department of Telecom has to take a call on whether to accept or reject the recommendations. "The implementation of these regulations by the government of India would include formally issuing new executive orders to amend the telecom license conditions of service providers who have been licensed to operate in India by the government".