Trai receives record response on net neutrality issue

Since most of the responses did not answer the questions posed by Trai, they are of no use to the regulator


Trai has received over 18 lakh responses from stakeholders to its consultation paper on differential pricing for data services. Photo: Mint
Trai has received over 18 lakh responses from stakeholders to its consultation paper on differential pricing for data services. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: With the raging debate on the issue of Net neutrality, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has received over 18 lakh responses from stakeholders to its consultation paper on differential pricing for data services, the regulator said on Thursday.

While it “appreciated the massive participation”, Trai said a preliminary scrutiny of responses showed that 14.34 lakh responses were in support of specific products without answering the questions put up for consultation.

The authority had requested stakeholders “to provide comments on the specific questions raised in the consultation paper with justifications so as to formulate appropriate policy guidelines on differential pricing for data services.”

Since most of the responses did not answer the questions posed by Trai, they are of no use to the regulator.

In an interview with The Hindu, Trai chairman R.S. Sharma said the regulatory body was not conducting an opinion poll, but a consultation for pricing models for data usage, which sought inputs backed by reasons and facts.

According to Trai, over 3.8 lakh people have sent in e-mails in support of Net neutrality, even as Facebook claims that about 3.2 million people have sent a petition to Trai in support of its Free Basics service.

The Free Basics service aims to offer people who do not have an Internet connection, free access to a handful of websites and a range of services through mobile phones. However, Net neutrality activists say such a move will violate the core principle that everyone should have unrestricted access to the Internet and it should not be regulated by a company.

On Wednesday, Trai extended the last date for submission of comments and counter comment to 7 and 14 January, respectively.