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Govt. panel reluctant to grants Airtel Zero

A DoT panel on net neutrality is reported to buck the projects like Facebook’s, which allow access to certain websites without mobile data charges. Though the panel has advocated similar plans of Airtel Zero be allowed with prior clearance from TRAI.

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The panel asserts that the collaborations between telecom operators and content providers that enable such gate-keeping role to be played by any entity should be actively discouraged.

Net neutrality implies that equal treatment is accorded to all Internet traffic and no priority be given to an entity or company based on payment to content or service providers such as telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory.

The neutrality debate heated up in India after telecom operator Airtel launched a platform, Airtel Zero, that would allow free access of some websites on it network. However, the companies were asked to pay Airtel for joining the platform.

The DoT panel has stated that this project has been criticized for violating net neutrality principle and favoring Facebook’s own services over its rivals. Facebook, however, at various forums has said that the project is pro-Internet access and hence does not violate the principle.

The earlier provided restricted Internet access to subscribers RCom, the panel is learnt to have noted.

The panel scrutinized that until April 2015, users could have free access for only a few websites and Facebook’s was seen as gatekeeper in determining what websites were in that list which violates net neutrality. In early May 2015, due to severe criticism, Facebook opened it to websites that meet certain criteria.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad helms the Department of Telecom (DoT) to form a panel on net neutrality and give its recommendation on the matter.


Niloy Banerjee

A generic movie-buff, passionate and professional with print journalism, serving editorial verticals on Technical and B2B segments, crude rover and writer on business happenings, spare time playing physical and digital forms of games; a love with philosophy is perennial as trying to archive pebbles from the ocean of literature. Lastly, a connoisseur in making and eating palatable cuisines.

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