NEW DELHI: The telecom regulator has recommended establishing a list of permissible and prohibited traffic management practices (TMPs) for internet access service (IAS) providers even as it recommended establishing a multi-stakeholder(MSB) body to assist the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in ensuring that net neutrality rules are followed.

“The DoT may define the process for creation and maintenance of a repository of reasonable TMPs,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in its recommendations on ‘Traffic Management Practices and Multi-Stakeholder Body for Net Neutrality’, issued on Tuesday. Also, the internet access service provider and the MSB must publish the repository of TMPs on their websites.

According to the 53-page recommendation, all internet access service providers must practice only the permitted TMPs and must provide all details regarding the application of TMPs both to the DoT and to the MSB.

The new set of recommendations come over two years after Trai recommended net neutrality rules that backed an open Internet. It had suggested having a mechanism for reasonable Internet traffic management to ensure quality of services while preserving security of networks and providing for emergency services.

The DoT in July 2018, asked the regulator to recommend necessary TMPs for DoT’s consideration and on composition of the MSB.

The regulator has recommended that the role of the MSB shall be to provide advice and support to DoT in the monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality principles. The recommendations say, “The MSB shall comprise all telecom service providers and internet service providers (license holders), content providers such as researchers, members from academic and technical community; civil society organisations; consumers; and the government”. Trai has further recommended setting up of the MSB as a non-profit entity.

The regulator, while undertaking the exercise of consultation on which TMPs should be permitted, had said, to monitor and enforce net neutrality in an objective and transparent manner, it might be required to list out reasonable TMPs and conditions when these might be applied. “Transparency on such practices used by telecom companies can be a critical factor in ensuring adherence to the principles of non-discrimination,” Trai had explained.

The government’s definitive backing of an open Internet regime in August 2018 had ended a multi-year, heated debate that had pitted mobile carriers against content providers and app makers. Telcos had said there was no need for any stringent regulation as they didn’t discriminate in any case. App makers, however, wanted explicit rules barring any discrimination.

The DoT eventually amended telecom and Internet service provider permits to incorporate net neutrality rules that barred the blocking or slowing down of content, even though it allowed fast lanes for critical specialised services and also kept content delivery networks outside the ambit of these open internet rules.

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