NetNeutrality: Will Telcos Thrive On Ambiguity?

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There have been raging debates on net neutrality in recent weeks from Airtel’s Zero to Facebook’s and anything that’s coming on the way to block the Web. Those debating are either ‘for’ or ‘against’ the topic. However, Net neutrality is not as simple as that, believe experts. There needs to be greater clarity in the process.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and Group CEO, Greyhound Research, says: “The pending TRAI decision on establishing a regulatory framework for web-based OTTs if gets passed will have serious implications on millions of Indians. While there is a lot of debate going on about the ramification of Net Neutrality and why it’s relevant in today’s digital economy, the two segments that will be clearly be affected are the Telcos and the customers using web-based/data based services.”

“For Telecom Operators/ISPs, the monetization of web-based OTTs will result in larger autonomy over the consumption pattern of users as well as a substantial increase in avenues for revenue generation,” says Gogia. “The concept of web as we understand and avail today is free access to all services where the Telco’s/ISPs do not have any authority to block any web-based service provider. Thus by allowing ISPs to manipulate the web-marketplace in the guise of charging for OTTs (as per TRAI regulations) will lead to ISPs creating selective & differential pricing for all web-based services that we consume today,” says Gogia.

More relevantly, one can question how does it help economy or the country? Gogia says, this selective & differential pricing levied by the Telcos/ISPs will definitely take a hit on India’s emerging digital economy. “While rural India is still getting used to internet –based services for financial inclusion such as mWallets and online banking, the decision to monetize all web based apps will directly impact this part of the economy. Overall, all consumers of web-based services will become entirely dependent on their Internet service provider for access to basic web-based apps that were earlier free,” he says.

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