New Delhi: The telecom regulator will soon start consultations over a framework for traffic management practices as well as the structure of a multi-stakeholder body outlined in the net neutrality principles, according to a senior Trai official. A discussion paper to tackle the twin aspects was likely to be brought out in about a month’s time, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) intended to follow the consultative process before finalising its views on the issue, the official said.

Net neutrality principles, recently approved by the department of telecommunications (DoT), prohibit service providers from discriminating against internet content and services by blocking, throttling or according preferential higher speeds. Simply put, this means that the entire internet traffic should be available to everyone on equal terms without any discrimination, and service providers cannot indulge in practices such as throttling web traffic or providing fast lanes for specific content.

The telecom commission, the apex decision-making body at the telecom department, had approved the implementation of net neutrality with slight modifications to Trai’s earlier suggestions, and has now approached the regulator “to recommend necessary traffic management practices for consideration of the DoT".

The DoT has also asked Trai to “recommend the composition, functions, role and responsibilities of the multi-stakeholder body" that will assist the department in monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality rules.

The Trai official said the regulator would recommend the framework for implementation of internet traffic management practices to comply with net neutrality rules. On the multi-stakeholder body, the official said that it might also focus on examining special applications and exceptions with regard to the net neutrality rules, and Trai would offer its suggestions to the DoT.

In its recommendations on net neutrality issued in November 2017, Trai had proposed that in addition to direct monitoring and enforcement actions, there should be a “collaborative mechanism to deepen the knowledge of various stakeholders on issues relating to traffic management, implementation of exceptions, implementation of transparency measures and other relevant aspects".

It had mooted that a collaborative mechanism be established in the form of a body comprising members representing different categories of telecom operators, internet service providers, large and small content providers, representatives from research and academia, civil society organisations and consumer representatives.

“The body would be tasked with the responsibility for developing technical standards & enforcement of the principles on non-discriminatory treatment," Trai had said in its recommendations late last year.

After approving the net neutrality norms, the DoT recently amended licence rules by incorporating clauses related to the principle. It also said that necessary traffic management practices would be formulated by DoT, on recommendations by Trai.

The department said that monitoring and enforcement functions would rest with itself, and the proposed multi-stakeholder body would play an advisory role.

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