Letter to the editor - Mint

Sir,

this is with reference to an opinion piece in the Mint: Leave the Internet Alone.

The authors appear to be misled regarding the campaign for Net Neutrality in India, although there isn’t a specific reference to Savetheinternet.in and the group of volunteers that seeded it. The draft responses we have published on our site request allowing for legitimate network management without paid prioritization, while requesting the enforcement of transparency to ensure prevention of discrimination. There is no move to disallow telecom operators and ISPs from selling higher or slower speed packs to consumers. There is a request, however, to prevent predatory practices from telecom operators via paid discrimination between the services that consumers access on the Internet, which would, in turn influence consumer choice.

There is also an issue of cross-media ownership wherein telecom operators like Airtel can launch music services like Wynk, by virtue of their ownership of both content and carriage, and advantage themselves by only allowing their applications to offer free data bundled with the service, or launch service after service to compete with other online services, in order to force competition to buy free data from them, to address a disproportionate competitive advantage.

There is also a mention of IPTV and the need for end-to-end connectivity in the opinion piece, and hence the mention of requirement of flexibility. Lest we forget, a constrained and controlled option like IPTV has failed in the open and competitive free market that is the Internet. Consumers have chosen, given the lack of manipulation, so far, from the access service providers like ISPs and telecom operators.

I can only hope that Payal Malik, the head of the economic division of the Competition Commission of India, who co-authored that opinion piece, hasn’t made up her mind and reads our submission to the TRAI before calling our campaign misaligned. We hope for a fair hearing of all sides from the CCI in case they take up this issue, which is critical for the future of entrepreneurship in India, and the participation of Indian businesses in the global marketplace that is the Internet.

Thanking you,
Nikhil Pahwa,
on behalf of the Savetheinternet.in Coalition

Nikhil Pahwa

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