Nut Neutrality -2

You have media houses like Times Group, NDTV  supporting net neutrality. You telecom operators like Airtel saying that they are not opposed to net neutrality and they don’t plan to throttle or block content. Then you have internet social sites like facebook and google wanting it for obvious reason. You have the e-commerce sites like flipkart and cleartrip now suddenly discovering that they were on the ‘wrong’ side. If everybody is agreeing to ‘it’, what is the problem, you will ask.

That is what our telecom industry man TRAI  cheief Khullar is saying :

In exclusive comments to the Indian Express, TRAI chief Telecom regulator Rahul Khullar had also said that the furore had been sparked off by a ‘ corporate war’ between a media house and a telecom operator, which is ” confounding already difficult matters”. (source Firstpost ). Lo, he is confounded‘. The man whom we pay to be stay clear of corporate wars take an informed stand for larger public good is confounded!  Whether he is genuinely confounded or not is another matter. Read this:

“It looks like Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its consultation paper, has copy-pasted from submissions of telcos. India has a robust and at times, overbearing IT Act,” IAMAI President Subho Ray was quoted as saying by PTI. “

I call ‘Net neutrality’ as ‘it‘ because it defies definition much like secularism, freedom of expression etc. Even the Congress supports it now! Since the devil is in details it is best to lay down clear principles (see https://raverantreflect.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/nut-neutrality/ ) We can’t depend on assurances of Airtel Chief or some other corporate bosses. They have their respective jobs to do.

All the above corporate lobbies have one thing in common: build something and seek rents. These rentiers care two hoots for your or mine privacy, unfettered and un-influenced access to internet.  All these companies may have their own rent  seeking business models. But public policy can’t be decided by their business models. We expect Khullar to not just to stay neutral but also to be competent and well informed to form an independent policy which will uphold public good.

We also expect RS Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology to stand when a confounded Khullar fails. Can we expect that?

 

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Nut Neutrality!

These are the days! Movies hit 100 crore jackpot in days. Samsung and Apple sell millions of smartphones each costing more than a bike in weeks. Apps and songs downloads hit million mark in days. Videos go viral infecting millions in minutes. By the time you realize something is a hit, it was a hit. By the time you open your morning newspaper the news it carries are stale. I wasn’t looking and this Nut Neutrality hit the ceiling. Flipkart supported Airtel in its nut plans and withdrew it at a speed that will put the likes of Mulayam to shame. Since I am deeply suspicious of anything that Airtel does -I think they mix up my MB downloads and re-lable them as GB – I was instinctively ‘inclined’ to ‘neutrality’.

But what got me annoyed was -Vishal Dadlani, Diggy, TOI, Rajdeep, and Barkha were also dropping their secularism and ‘siding’ with ‘neutrality’ even though there are clear signs that Ravishankar Prasad and Modi Sarkar are going to lean towards neutrality.

To add to my confusion it seems that TRAI is opposing it. Now TRAI being a body ‘representing’ telecom operators, as a customer my views are by default opposite of TRAI on most matters -until I verify and change my stand.

So here I am stranded helplessly, deciding which side of the nut I would prefer. My problem is compounded because everyone supports it like they supported the reservation policy, Haj Subsidy, Old Land Acquisition Bill,  and The Climate Science blaming Carbon. Unanimity of this kind makes me uncomfortable.

Therefore I decided to chuck the word neutrality. Here is what I want:

1. The internet is a public good, public utility like water or roads. No one except the public can own it and do to it what they please. Every private or government party has been licensed to build it, provide it, and charge money in return.

2. The internet protocols are by definition neutral or agnostic to what data (or content) they transport and it is open. That is the reason it has grown, become enormously useful, and is now a public utility. Differentiating the data streams according the content inherently violates this basic foundation.

3.  We wish to pay for our internet use. If you want to give it free you should do it without disturbing internet’s technical structure -it means you can’t sniff data packets to adjust your cash counters. We don’t want such innovation.

4. If you invest in building internet infrastructure you should do this according to your business plans. Don’t expect us to agree to change public policy just because you will make losses or make less profits. You got internet service licence, stick to its terms. Nobody forced you bid those high prices for spectrum. Nobody forced you to take on additional subscribers without having spectrum and infrastructure in place. So stop cribbing about your losses and pay attention to voice and data quality.

5.  We need good service from you the telecom operators. And open your data download metering to public scrutiny.

6. By the way, when I watch video on youtube your data meters start spinning wildly -so what are you complaining about?

7. It is not inconceivable given your (telecom operators and other tech giants like google, IBM..) ‘innovative streak’ you may already be throttling \ speeding some content based your business model(s) without anyone looking. In the US, Comcast was hauled over coals for blocking some content. I recall I used to face huge problems in accessing some web sites ( twitter.com, linkedin.com) on PC, while their app versions worked like charm on my mobile. Was it because twitter and linkedin wanted to promote their apps, like every e-commerce site wants to promote app use (you can steal a lot user data from mobile)? Did they pay you guys? Looks suspicious.

Now stop being Nuts and don’t sniff and snuff my data.

But I know that unless the the TRAI is overhauled and unless Mr. Khullar is shown the door you (telecom and tech companies) can do what you please.