As TRAI prepares to present its recommendation paper on 22nd April 2015, Its time for citizens to be aware of what a regulated internet would mean for them.
The question at point which seems to affect most users is as to Why would the telecom companies charge special fees for the browsing of special web portals and How would this affect us ie. The consumers?
India is the world’s second-largest telecommunications market, with 898 million subscribers as of March 2013. The sector's revenue grew by 13.4 per cent to reach US$ 64.1 billion in FY12. Wireless and wireline revenue increased at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9 per cent to reach US$ 40.8 billion over FY07-12 . This would give you a fairly good idea of the market share that telecom companies consume. Last checked, a majority of these companies have reported revenues above Rs. 300 Billion with a 100% growth in revenue every year! Apparently, the Indian Telecom industry does not seem starving of funds or low on profits to demand any form of compensation or public support.
This is precisely where the consumers' arguments become valid. The setting up of airwaves and bandwidth was to a large extent publicly funded. These industries did well in making up for the installation costs through the rates that they charge for these facilities. The fact that other companies have evolved and have used their networks to build secondary services does not give the telecos any right to levy cess on their services. Just because Watsapp enjoys greater popularity than the SMS services and because Voice-over-Internet-Protocol(VoIP) is the new in thing does not make the customers liable to bear extra costs. Moreover, the fact remains that internet services are cheaper than normal telephone rates.
The fact that consumers are not protesting a hike in network service rates and merely the freedom to have an open network is something that the TRAI needs to consider. By vague explanations and absurd claims like OTT(over-the-top) applications are eating in on the government and telecom industry's legitimate revenue and that social apps can alter the culture and tradition of India, the TRAI is in fact, presenting an embarrassing picture of it's own ethics. By limiting certain web services through additional preferential costs and unfair tie-up TRAI seems to be issuing a very biased and narrow minded verdict.
All that said, as consumers, a free and open market is our right. The kind of content that we wish to access and the kind of applications that we desire to use should be a matter of personal choice. Its true that many of us have highly customised network usage but that does not mean that the rest of the web should not be free for use. TRAI's claim that clogging of bandwidth is a threat in the future needs to evolve its infrastructure and services to match the competition it faces. Moreover, consumers are not denying charges of what they are liable to pay. You use more you pay more. Case closed. But channeling networks in favour of certain web portal, denying access to others or any sort of network bias is totally unacceptable.
On the 22nd of April, 2015, the TRAI and top telecos are going to present their 'grievances' and decide the future of our network usage. It would seem weird to many but yes, now is the time we stood up for our internet rights. Please make it a priority to go through the consultation paper by TRAI through the following link:
And for those who would like to join the cause for a free network, kindly sign the petition being forwarded to the Union Minister of Telecommunication Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad in the link given here : change.org/p/rsprasad-trai-don-t-allow-differential-pricing-of-services-let-consumers-choose-how-they-want-to-use-internet-netneutrality