Centre approves telecom authority’s recommendations on net neutrality

Net Neutrality

India's Department of Telecommunications reportedly approved net neutrality rules on Wednesday, which require that all users must have equal access to legal online content at the same price and speed. Trai had also exempted specialised services such as autonomous cars, remote surgery, that are mission critical applications to be excluded from the purview of the framework, along with content delivery networks.

"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality - which come into effect nearly immediately - will be met with stiff penalties", Department of Telecommunications secretary Aruna Sundararajan told The Times of India. "The authority has recommended an amendment to the license agreements to clarify the principle of unrestricted access given under the appropriate license agreements".

DoT will also frame a policy on traffic management practices for service providers and separately set up a body of industry representatives and civil society to monitor and enforce net neutrality norms. "Everybody in the meeting today said that digital infrastructure is even more important than physical infrastructure for India", Sundararajan said. CEO of Niti Ayog (Amitabh Kant) said that for districts, we must ensure digital infrastructure is provided at the earliest. The policy, which will be the roadmap for the other government decisions in the digital sector once it gets the Cabinet nod, also proposes reviewing licence fees, spectrum usage charges, and the universal service obligation fund levy, which add to the cost of telecom services, with an aim to enhance ease of doing business.

An official, who was part of the meeting, said that the TC has approved installation of around 12.5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspot in all gram panchayats with viability gap funding of around Rs. 6,000 crores by December 2018.

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