HomeCultureNet Neutrality in India: The Story so Far

Net Neutrality in India: The Story so Far


The term ‘Net Neutrality’, which has recently been making headlines, means that anyone with an internet connection has equal access to all websites on the web. Whether it’s accessing government archives or shopping on Flipkart, you can visit any website you want as long as you pay your internet bill every month. But recently, telecom companies such as Airtel (with Airtel Zero) are trying to compromise on Net Neutrality in India by making their users pay to go on certain websites. Telecom operators argue that Over-the-Top services such as Skype, Viber and Whatsapp result in losses for them because people can use these applications in place of the services provided by telecom companies – for instance the inception of free instant-messaging apps like Whatsapp means that there is no need to send an SMS which costs money.

However, telecom companies are making enough profit to justify investments and placing a price on websites only seeks to widen their already adequate profit margin. But many service providers are still in talks with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and are trying to create a platform wherein their users have to pay to use websites not included in their internet pack.

Why It Matters

Recent events have led to the realization that we may have been taking Net Neutrality for granted. The internet has come to be an integral part of our lives as we learn so much from it – whether it’s learning how to tie a tie through a video or reading about the economic crisis in Greece. Educational resources like Khan Academy and Udemy are being used by millions of people to learn things that they never had the opportunity to learn.

Social media isn’t just a platform to post selfies – crowdfunding, awareness about online petitions and bridging communication gaps between people are also a few of the many ways social media can be used for positive action. Additionally, Net Neutrality is essential for the success of e-commerce websites and start-ups. The internet provides a platform for businesses to digitize their services and sell products online. Compromising Net Neutrality discourages budding entrepreneurs, creating a license raj of sorts, similar to the one that existed pre-liberalization, which is highly detrimental to the economy of India.

News about Net Neutrality

On March 27th this year, TRAI published a paper on OTT services and Net Neutrality and gave the public a deadline of less than a month to present counter-arguments. TRAI received over 1 million emails in support of Net Neutrality. However, within a few weeks TRAI released the email addresses of the supporters of Net Neutrality in a truly unjustifiable move, breaching the privacy of over a million Indians. In August this year, the government invited the public to engage in an online discussion on Net Neutrality on mygov.in However, despite receiving an incredible response yet again, there is still no definite verdict on Net Neutrality.


The danger to Net Neutrality is very real and there is a chance that we may lose it. While companies like Flipkart tried to save themselves by entering into an agreement with Airtel, many others like Zomato and Amazon supported Net Neutrality. Even celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan have raised concerns over the threats to Net Neutrality and are supporters of equal access to everything on the internet. Net Neutrality is something we cannot lose – it’s time we raised our voices.

[Image Attribute: Rick Barry]
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