According to Dr. Jitendra K Das, Director FORE School of Management, Delhi, who has been a thought leader in policy and reforms and teaches online retail and consumer behavior, “Net neutrality is akin to freedom. Some ISPs are trying to curb this essentially to protect their business interest. For example Airtel may want to slow down or kill any voice chat. The tele-call facility on Whatsapp for example is a big threat to telecom companies. Unethical practices will come into play. The availability of the internet through a uniform platform and a common carrier without any user bias-ness will no longer exist. It will greatly hamper the daily user. First the user will be asked to buy an internet pack, then he would be encouraged to surf the websites which has some sort of commercial agreement with the ISP. But will get extorted the moment he chooses to visit any websites or applications which are not a part of that cartel. Uneven charges will be added to his monthly billing. And one may also get blocked to surf particular contents depending on the ISPs commercial interest. Moreover, there will be multiple offers by multiple ISPs and operators akin to Airtel Zero. And with each of them coming out with a set of sites which they shall promote as per their commercial viability, there shall be 100s of internets created among the internet and end-users having to pay more.”
While differential pricing is practiced in quite a few situations, for example, electricity (domestic vs industrial usage), goods based on geographical/scarcity situations, etc., the forced differential internet usage will have a very different implication.
Dr. Das adds, “We must understand that a compromise on 'fair and just' operating field leads to formation of monopolists and oligopolists who care least for the consumers. This is harmful for consumers and for innovations that potentially improves the market efficiency. Increase in market efficiency means more buying options to consumers at a lower price. When net neutrality is compromised, particularly when the internet based businesses are in a nascent market, the market will quickly tend towards monopoly/oligopoly. This shift will happen real quickly because the internet businesses operate in what we call "increasing return to scale" environment as against the conventional "decreasing return to scale" paradigm that we are familiar with. Quickly the 'increasing return to scale' can be taken to mean that it is very easy for the big players to become bigger and in the process they get the ability, due to a typical business environment, to kill competition. With no net neutrality, the big and powerful players in the market will always stifle the new entrants. Further, we have to understand that the internet is also an infrastructure that should be readily available to all, such that smart operators, not necessarily the powerful operators, can configure and deliver goods or services to consumers with equal ease and more efficiently. That is, the society will grow and prosper only when rights of all citizens, and thus the consumers, is equally protected.”
The Internet today being an integral part of our lives, citizens of India need to come forward, create awareness, join this movement and stop any initiative towards such discrimination on net-usage. The movement has already forced giants Flipkart to pull out from the Airtel Zero and Cleartrip, NDTV, TIMES group to pull out from ‘internet.org’, a venture promoted by Facebook and Reliance. Hope to see more sense prevailing in the corporate sector and ethical practices to follow. Like many other countries, India too shall adopt Net Neutrality as a permanent policy and put an end to all speculations of cannibalisation of any services in the online domain.
You may voice your opinion by sending a mail to TRAI firstname.lastname@example.org