Why Net Neutrality Matters

There is a sudden hype about a term named 'net neutrality'. Frankly speaking, none of us were genuinely bothered all these days a...


There is a sudden hype about a term named 'net neutrality'. Frankly speaking, none of us were genuinely bothered all these days about what that term meant. Internet activists have been making a lot of hue and cry that the Internet is in danger- and it needs to be promptly saved. Undoubtedly, they were right; and (unfortunately) for us, we just don't care.


However, as they say, time flows by. A large decadal modernization of the telecom sector has also taken place, thanks to key players, like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Tata, and many more. Airtel emerged to be one of the major operators by the end of 2010. Of course, praises should be heaped. However, it would be also worthwhile to mention that every rose has thorns.

All that glitters is not gold, netizens. Airtel recently launched their experimental programme, Airtel Zero. Under this scheme, the data used for the apps used would not be paid by you. It would rather be paid by the app developer. This, at first read, seems to be beneficial and most unaware of the complexity would rather swing in favour of it. The actual intent is oblivious: it goes against the pillars of net neutrality. Here comes the term again. I'd now break it down, so you can understand why you should bother.

Take Flipkart for a case study. The Sachin Bansal led largest e-commerce player was one of the first to sign up for Airtel's offer. According to the terms of the partnership, you can surf as much as you want, and browse through the 'online megastore' without burning a paisa. All of the cost would be paid for and borne by Flipkart itself. At the same time, competitors like Amazon and Snapdeal, for example would lag behind, and this can prove to be a cause for major financial damages to the present-day giants.


This issue would not bother bigger institutional firms that have millions at hand. The issue is not of the established and well-known corporations. It is a matter of concern for millions of entrepreneurial start-ups that are innovative. Service providers can literally choke them out of their life, as they do not have enough cash to spend. Where would all that innovation go? Where would the modernistic, open-source software projects go? They'd all land up somewhere inaccessible to us.

I read a beautiful article on IBN the other day, and would like to cite it as a reference here. You have your local municipality that provides you with water for a certain fee per month. You have the freedom to choose how you utilize that volume of water: You can use it for watering plants, you can use it for washing, cooking, or anything that you'd like to do. It's not a matter of concern for the municipality (not that they should be). You'd feel frustrated if they start levying additional charges for a consistent water supply. The condition would get further aggravated when they start imposing surplus charges for different activities as mentioned above. After all, you do have the freedom to choose. And in a way, that is what is happening to the Internet right now.


Developed nations like the United States, the European Union and other major countries have all adopted laws that make net neutrality laws existent. If we do not act now, the world wide web may not be the same as we know it today. Let's prove that we Indians do care. 

The Cellular Operator's Association of India is lobbying the TRAI to pass the law that would enable them to rail against net neutrality. You can help save the Internet. The Internet calls on you to help it survive the battle. Go and immediately send an email to advqos@trai.gov.in, stating your views against it. Time ticks by! Alternatively, you can also visit savetheinternet.in and send pre-composed messages directly.




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