The TRAI has issued another consultation paper on Net Neutrality which is an extension of past restrictive regulatory actions (for telcos) such as prohibition of discriminatory tariffs for data services and recommendations on provisioning of free data.
The consultation discusses several critical issues such as the core principles of net neutrality (NN), traffic management practices (TMP), transparency and a policy framework for regulating NN. These issues are discussed keeping in mind specific factors such as regulatory structure, licensing regime, dominance of large wireless broadband providers, demand versus traffic capacity, and broadband coverage.
The consultation will be followed by the regulator’s discussion with stakeholders, counter comments on critical matters and regulations. Given the sensitive nature of NN, the regulator’s framework will likely be implemented by a DoT. Whilst telcos clamour for a level playing field with OTT platforms and seek business flexibility to support telecom infrastructure investments via B2B deals, the regulator seems to remain steadfast in preventing telcos from entering commercially beneficial B2B arrangements.
The regulator takes a very hawkish view on the telecom industry stating that (a) there is a high degree of concentration in the hands of large telcos; it noted that the top 5 service providers constituted 79% (Sep-16) of the broadband market, (b) telcos must not derive commercial benefits from TMP. Further, the regulator also doused hopes of telcos by stating that TMP shouldn’t be used to support telcos’ network investment and capacity generation efforts.