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Government looks at law to clarify ‘dos and don’ts’ to guarantee net neutrality

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

With no legal provisions for either the government or the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to implement non-discriminatory access to the Internet currently, the government is mulling a public law defining “dos and don’ts” to guarantee net neutrality.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has provided a background note to a six-member committee suggesting ‘specific measures for enforcing net neutrality’, while viewing the factors relevant in the Indian context. Three factors: need for increased broadband availability, a competitive environment and low telecom tariff indicate that market forces will guard any irregularity by telecom service providers (TSPs).

The note also takes a bleak glimpse in the fact that the most overriding content and application providers are integrated outside the country, which lead to security concerns, interception and legal jurisdiction.  It is expected that the committee will submit its report by the second week of May.

Notably, telcos, such as Reliance and Airtel had initiated separate services in alliance with select content providers offering free data access to their websites. However, it soon ended up after the companies had to withdraw their schemes, not because of any regulatory or government proclamation, but due to a public hullabaloo.

The DoT sources revealed that as the things are today, remarkably high internet traffic growth rate is resulting in network congestion and spectrum crunch. This, in turn, is forcing telcos to implement traffic management tools that curb the stream of data on the Internet.

The  Web Foundation’s 2014 Web Index reveals the fact that 74% of 86 countries included in the study lacked lucid and effective net neutrality rules or showed proofs of price discrimination.

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Half The Global Population Uses The Internet: ITU Report

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness.

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Nigeria, Population
Youths are seen browsing the internet inside the venue of the launch of Google free wifi project in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

The International Telecommunication Union reports that for the first time in history, half of the global population is using the internet. A new report finds by the end of the year, 3.9 billion people worldwide will be online.

The report finds access to and use of information and communication technologies around the world is trending upwards. It notes most internet users are in developed countries, with more than 80 percent of their populations online. But it says internet use is steadily growing in developing countries, increasing from 7.7 percent in 2005 to 45.3 percent this year.

The International Telecommunication Union says Africa is the region with the strongest growth, where the percentage of people using the internet has increased from just over two percent in 2005 to nearly 25 percent in 2018.

Somalia, Population
A Somali man browses the internet on his mobile phone at a beach in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. VOA

The lowest growth rates, it says, are in Europe and the Americas, with the lowest usage found in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to data on internet usage, newly released statistics show mobile access to basic telecommunication services is becoming more predominant. ITU Senior Statistician, Esperanza Magpantay says access to higher speed mobile and fixed broadband also is growing.

“So, there is almost 96 percent of the population who are now covered by mobile population signal of which 90 percent are covered by 3G access. So, this is a high figure, and this helps explain why we have this 51 percent of the population now using the internet,” she said.

With the growth in mobile broadband, Magpantay says there has been an upsurge in the number of people using the internet through their mobile devices.

Nairobi, Population
Young men surf the internet at a cyber cafe on June 20, 2012 in Kibera slum in Nairobi.

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness. Unfortunately, it says the cost of accessing telecommunication networks remains too high and unaffordable for many.

Also Read: Global Care Crisis Rises Along With Growing Population

It says prices must be brought down to make the digital economy a reality for the half the world’s people who do not, as yet, use the internet. (VOA)