Telecom Commission approves new telecom policy, backs net neutrality

New Delhi: The Telecom Commission (TC) has approved net neutrality rules which bar service providers from discriminating against Internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access.

In a heavy-duty meeting on Wednesday, the Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body in the Department of Telecommunications, approved the net neutrality rules implying internet will remain open to everybody in the country.

Telecom Commission approves new telecom policy, backs net neutrality from discriminating against Internet or granting them higher speed access.

Some mission-critical applications or services like remote surgery and autonomous cars will, however, be kept out of the purview of net neutrality framework. The fight for net neutrality in India was a hot topic in 2016, when Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had floated a consultation paper on the topic.

“The Telecom Commission approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI, except some critical services will be kept out of its purview,” Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told reporters.

Telecom Commission approves new telecom policy, backs net neutrality from discriminating against Internet or granting them higher speed access.

An official, who was part of the meeting, said that the TC has approved installation of around 12.5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspot in all gram panchayats with viability gap funding of around Rs. 6,000 crores by December 2018.

The TRAI had recommended restrictions on service providers from entering into agreements which lead to discriminatory treatment of content on the Internet. TC also approved the new telecom policy – National Digital Communications Policy 2018 – for seeking approval of the Union Cabinet, Sundararajan said.

An official, who was part of the meeting, said that the TC has approved installation of around 12.5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspot in all gram panchayats with viability gap funding of around Rs. 6,000 crores by December 2018.

“Everybody in the meeting said that digital infrastructure is even more important than physical infrastructure for India. CEO of NITI Aayog (Amitabh Kant) said that for…districts, we must ensure digital infrastructure is provided at the earliest. Therefore, India must have ease of doing business and enabling policy environment,” she said.

Apart from net neutrality rules, the commission has also approved the new telecom policy — National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP), 2018 — aimed at promoting investments, ease of doing business, and emerging technologies like 5G.

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