DoT greenlights net neutrality rules, Digital Communication Policy

12 Jul 2018

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has approved the recommendations on net neutrality put forward by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in late 2017, the Economic Times writes, citing Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan. The Telecom Commission – the DoT’s highest decision-making body – approved the recommendations, which prohibit any kind of discriminatory treatment of content based on the sender, receiver, the protocols being user or the user’s equipment. In addition to an exception specified by the TRAI such for niche ‘specialised services’, the official explained that the DoT would exclude critical services from the regulations, to ensure that such traffic could be prioritised. The DoT and the TRAI will consult on which services should be excluded in the coming months and a separate regime for those will be developed. The DoT will immediately amend ISP licences to include the provisions of the new net neutrality regulations, the official added.

Monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality norms will be handled by a new multi-stakeholder body comprising members from service providers, content providers, research firms and academia, as well as civil society organisations and consumer rights groups. The terms, conditions and structure of the new group are yet to be determined by the TRAI, however.

The Commission also approved the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018, which will now be sent to the cabinet within the next two weeks, Ms Sundararajan told the press, stating: ‘All members said that digital infrastructure is even more important than physical infrastructure for India … [and] that for the aspirational states, we must ensure that digital infrastructure is provided at the earliest. Therefore, India must have ease of doing business and an enabling policy environment for fresh investments.’ The NDCP 2018 looks to improve ease of doing business and hopes to attract investment of more than USD100 billion by 2022.