From now on, Internet Service Providers (ISP) are not allowed to throttle internet speeds or grant favorable speeds to content providers.
And this collaboration between Trai and Berec came at the right time for net neutrality - four days after open internet rules expired in the U.S., legally allowing American ISPs to slow down, block or even offer paid prioritisation to some websites.
"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality - which come into effect nearly immediately - will be met with stiff penalties", telecom secretary Aruna Sundarajan told Indian reporters. A separate committee under the DoT will be set up to earmark such critical services/areas and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will also be consulted on this matter. The two services were later banned by Trai.
Net Neutrality, over the years, has become somewhat of a household term in the Indian netscape. To use other services, users would have had to pay additional charges.
Popular tech website Gizmodo put it most succinctly - "Indian net neutrality activists argued that Free Basics was a way for Facebook to shape internet access". The draft policy focuses on provisioning of broadband for all, creating 4 million additional jobs and enhancing the contribution of the sector to 8 per cent of India's GDP from around 6 per cent in 2017.
Also, they can not create zero-rated platforms which offer only a certain category of services/websites as free. This should particularly feel reassuring after USA, the world's biggest internet economy and home of major tech companies, seems undecided on the future of net neutrality.
If any telecom firm violates the net neutrality guidelines, Telecom Commission said it would be a violation of licence conditions.
However, there are some exemptions to the net neutrality in the new policy, these are mission critical applications like autonomous vehicles or telemedicine, which may require faster speeds or internet lanes than others. "Therefore, India must have ease of doing business and enabling policy environment", telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said after the meeting of the Telecom Commission. Telecom companies in several countries could lobby regulators to put an end to net neutrality.
Going forward, the panel will also frame traffic management practices (TMPs) for telcos to ensure service quality, security of networks, emergency services, and implementation of court orders and government directions as long as they are transparent and the impact on users is declared.