Chandrasekhar responds to TRAI consultation on free data, reiterates need for net neutrality

NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha Member and Technology Entrepreneur and consumer rights activists Rajeev Chandrasekhar today made his submissions to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) consultation paper on Free Data.

In his submission, Chandrasekhar, while re-iterating the need for Net-Neutrality submitted that there is a need to have telecommunications service provider (TSP) agnostic platforms that seek to reimburse users with data and that the ability of websites/apps to use TSP agnostic platforms for promotions, rebates, price-offs, reimbursing/discounting access to or services on their site is perfectly acceptable on the Internet.

“However, to ensure Net Neutrality, these Platforms should be permitted to enter into commercial agreements with only websites that are being promoted and/or consumers, and are expressly prohibited from doing so directly with Telcos/TSPs,” he added.

Chandrasekhar in his submission also mentioned that with presence and growth of large Internet companies (Non TSPs), legitimate consumer interest challenges like free and fair competition, market power and other distortions are bound to arise, and these will need regulatory intervention and that it is up to the TRAI to evolve an effective, capable and transparent form of regulation, either jointly with other domain expert regulators like CCI or on its own. But given the genuine limitations to TRAI’s powers it would require them to explore joint regulation.

Chandrasekhar has also urged in his submission that TRAI urgently define Net Neutrality and this definition must focus on preventing gatekeeping/cabelization by Telcos.

Chandrasekhar is also of the opinion that Free Data must not be regulated through an ex-ante ban, but on a case-by-case basis. Regulation must not dampen competition or innovation on the web.

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