The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended the Unified Licence (UL) norms for telecom operators and virtual network operators (VNOs) to include the regulatory framework for application of net neutrality principles.
This means that now operators providing internet services cannot engage in any “discriminatory treatment of content, including based on the sender or receiver, the protocols being used or the user equipment”.
The licensees are also prohibited from entering into any agreement or contact that has the effect of discriminatory treatment of content, a DoT notification said.
However, this also means that now operators, who were earlier constrained due to the Trai’s differential pricing regulation, will get some leeway in pricing their valued added services in three areas — specialised services, content delivery networks, and traffic management.
Although specialised services have been allowed, with the stipulation that such services should not offered as a replacement for ‘internet access service’ and is not detrimental to the availability and overall quality of internet.
Accordingly, DoT has also amended the definition of internet access services, which now means a service to access the internet that is generally available to the public and is designed to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all endpoints on the internet.
On July 11, Telecom Commission, the highest policy making body in the DoT, approved the recommendations of the Trai with regard to net neutrality.