TRAI: Keep net neutrality at a provider level
Haven’t seen this distinction made in India and it must be made. net-neutrality has many analogies going around and many explicitly ask the network to be dumb.
My main objection to free basics or zero rating is that content providers should not be able to pay telcos for preferred access. This stifles competition and loads the dice in favor of large providers who will have the capacity and resources to strike deals with telcos. Ask any startup on their experience in dealing with telcos and you will cry at the horror stories.
The second objection is due to the possibility of breaking up the Internet into silos. Already, platforms like Facebook are trying hard to do so (you can’t even hyperlink text inside your posts there) and this is not what I like. The original promise of the WWW as a hyperlinked network must be protected.
Another fear many people have is specifically on voice calls or video streaming being charged extra. This is slippery territory. As long as the above two principles are upheld, telcos should be free to charge differentially based on QoS (Quality of Service) being given. Maybe I will take a pack that gives higher speed for real time data. Frankly, this is impractical today — the network is too diverse for a telco to ensure such promises to a retail consumer. However, why regulate and stifle such a possibility. This may be more practical in a corporate setting where administrators already do network shaping for things like video calls.
As long as a telco doesn’t say only Skype is allowed since they have paid up and whatsApp calling is not (since they did not), we should not do regulatory over reach on this matter.