Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
india, net neutrality, us



India Embraces Full Net Neutrality As The U.S. Runs The Opposite Direction

from the ill-communication dept

While the United States walks away from the concept of net neutrality, India just passed some of the toughest net neutrality rules in the world. You'll recall that net neutrality became a hot topic over in India when Facebook tried to roll out a walled-garden service known as "Free Basics." Free Basics provided users free, "zero rated" (usage cap exempt) access to a limited selection of curated content and services chosen by Facebook, something Facebook claimed would immeasurably benefit the nation's poor farmers.

In reality, many pointed out that Facebook's breathless concern for the poor really just masked the company's attempt to corner the ad markets in developing nations. Content providers didn't like Facebook being the one to dictate which services would or wouldn't be included for obvious reasons. Others (like Mozilla) noted that if Facebook was truly interested in connecting developing nations with broadband, it could, you know, actually do that. Others still weren't keen on another white, Western billionaire proclaiming that only he had the magical solution to the nation's problems.

Facebook's response to these concerns wasn't what you'd call impressive, with Zuckerberg insisting those opposed to his plans were simply hurting the poor. That behavior in turn only galvanized activist support for tougher net neutrality rules in the country, the foundations for which were laid last year. There too Facebook engaged in some shady behavior, at one point trying to trick Indian citizens into supporting its plans and opposing meaningful net neutrality protections.

That didn't work, and last week the Indian government put the finishing touches on what, by most measures, are considered some of the toughest net neutrality rules in the world:

Not only do the rules prohibit most of the standard bad behaviors you wouldn't want ISPs to engage in (throttling or blocking competitors, for example), it takes a hard stance against the practice of zero rating, or letting an ISP exempt its own (or say a deep-pocketed partner like Disney or ESPN) content from usage caps, while penalizing competitors. As we've seen in the states, ISPs in India were fine with the bans on blocking and throttling (since most ISPs know such a move would be PR suicide), but expressed disdain at portions of the rules that banned more nuanced, creative areas where anti-competitive behavior occurs today.

You'll also notice some now-common arguments from India's wireless carriers, including claiming that rules banning anti-competitive behavior will "hamper innovation," or insisting that net neutrality somehow prevents wireless carriers from deploying faster, better 5G networks:

“Where the net neutrality recommendations are concerned, we have already expressed our support on issues pertaining to non-discriminatory use of the Internet, including no blocking, no throttling and adoption of same service-same rules. That said, we reiterate our earlier position that a light touch regulatory approach should be adopted so that innovation is not hampered by the Net Neutrality rules,” Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI, said in a statement.

In particular, COAI believes that industry practices with regard to traffic prioritisation should be reviewed to help “foster 5G-enabled applications”.

“Now that the commission has approved the recommendations, which are before the Cabinet for approval, we hope that the Cabinet will consider the concerns raised by the industry so that the Net Neutrality rules that are adopted in India benefit the consumers, incentivise innovation and adoption of new technologies, and enable the seamless spread of state of the art networks and service,” he added."

Again, if you're an ISP that doesn't engage in anti-competitive behavior, you have nothing to worry about. And the only "creative" or "innovative" behaviors banned by rules (assuming they're crafted properly) are efforts to further abuse a lack of competition in the space. Without them, ISPs have and will do everything in their power to abuse their gatekeeper positions to glean additional revenue. It's a lesson the United States appears intent on learning the hard way.


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  • icon
    Nathan F (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 6:46am

    Time to push for some "International Parity" in regards to Net Neutrality!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      We HAVE TO HARMONIZE OUR LAWS, WE ARE NOT FOLLOWING INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS...

      Get with the times people, vote with your $$$ (you know the Corporations are and they are voting more than the public are).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re:Laws

        Yes, no law can ever be good. /s

        Please stop this refrain. My pocketbook is trapped by a natural monopoly and I have a choice of Spectrum or no internet.
        Saying I can do without is asinine, I need internet just like I need electricity and water.

        *ONLY* responsible anti-monopoly and net neutrality laws can help.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tin-Foil-Hat, 20 Jul 2018 @ 7:40am

    And ...

    Extra extra ... Many countries steps forward while the United States jumps the shark. This process started decades ago. Those in power lie about freedom and democracy while oppressing their subjects. It's a feature not a bug,

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 7:47am

    If you analyze past behavior from the ISPs it's only somewhat recently that they decided abiding by NN principles is "oh so onerous and evil". Bullshit.

    If Europe and India ISPs can live with though regulations then the US can as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 3:04pm

      Re:

      Yes, but think about how amazing the service and prices would be without those pesky and anti-innovative rules? You'd all but certainly have multi-TB rather than GB connections, for a fraction of the costs, were it not for those extremely burdensome regulations holding them back.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Iggy, 20 Jul 2018 @ 7:55am

    But how will in India ever get internet access without Mark Zuckerburg?

    Next they'll say Elon Musk had nothing to do with rescuing those kids trapped in a cave in Thailand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 9:02am

    not just the USA. other nations like those in the EU and UK need to be 'encouraged' as well!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 9:15am

    Comments such as those from the Indian ISPs are what happens when PR firms go global.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 20 Jul 2018 @ 9:24am

    There's lies
    Damn lies
    Politics
    And advertising

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 9:44am

    It's a lesson the United States appears intent on learning the hard way.

    You are assuming the US appears intent on learning. I think that's a seriously flawed assumption.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      Well, one way or another, we'll learn or have learned the consequences of a lack of regulation over the ISPs. The only question is whether or not enough people will do something about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 10:42am

        Re: Re:

        A small correction, the question is can the people convince the politicians to do something that benefits them rather than the corporations.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      As an American, I can only say this: Well, you’re not wrong…

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 10:09am

    There is a lesson to be learned here

    Facebook needs to promise Free Internet to everyone in the US.

    Under the same conditions Facebook promised to India.

    That would make the congress critters bring back network neutrality to protect everyone!!!

    Oh, wait. No, it wouldn't. They don't care. That is the lesson.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 10:54am

    "Facebook's response to these concerns wasn't what you'd call impressive,"

    I'd say the utter lack of regard for truth was fairly impressive, in a twisted sort of way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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