The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has finally agreed to the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding net neutrality. TRAI in November 2017 had recommended a prohibition on Internet service providers (ISPs) from engaging in “any form of discrimination or interference” in the treatment of online content.

Now the ISPs will not be able to engage in practices such as slowing down, blocking, degrading, or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content”.

The net neutrality rules, the new telecom policy and a slew of other proposals had come up before the Telecom Commission (TC), the highest-decision making body within the Dot.

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.

The Telecom Commission (TC) today approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI expect some critical services will be kept out of its purview,” Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan was quoted as saying in a Business Standard report. The new telecom policy “National Digital Communications Policy 2018” is now seeking approval of the Union Cabinet.

The exceptions have drawn criticism as, according to The Wire report, Modi government through these exceptions was trying to allot highly valuable spectrum in the ‘E’ and ‘V’ bands, without auction to a few companies on a first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis.

The confirmation has come at a time when the sector is facing financial trouble, with a debt of nearly Rs 8 crore. Revenue and profitability of operators have come under severe pressure because of the brutal competition accelerated by the entry of aggressive newcomer Reliance Jio. This has also led to increasing consolidation through mergers, acquisitions and exits in the sector.

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