The fundamental reason for growth of Internet and becoming a global resource has been a non hierarchical nature of relationship between developers (application & content) and providers (Infrastructure & transport) with power lying at the edges in the form of users (Individual & Business), namely consumers, driving the growth as well as creativity and innovation. Essentially the infrastructure, transport, application and social layers being serviced by different people and organizations were working to meet the demand of the consumers.
In the current model, users are paying for the connectivity to their own premises with one significant characteristic that those causing demand, namely consumers requesting services such as a video stream, face the associated costs. Content and application providers use efficient compression, content caching and invest in infrastructure since they pay for carriage and have an incentive to deliver a positive end user experience. At the end every stakeholder driving the demand is paying for it justifying the investment of the providers.
This leads to core principle of net neutrality that (Internet Service Provider) ISPs must not discriminate among lawful traffic based on its content, source, ownership, application or service. Any attempt to change this will lead to a fragmented / closed Internet, where the premium paying content providers, application providers will be able to beam in their services without any regard to the choice of the users. Till now, the internet has been defined by the users which will or will not be in tomorrow’s internet is the case in point.
Arguably, if the increase in traffic is the reason for not adhering to net neutrality and prioritization of traffic is being held as solution, let us remind ourselves that
• The cost of the last mile access does not increase with increase in traffic for ISPs whereas revenue accrues to them.
• All ISPs charge one time activation charges to cover the fixed line last mile access costs irrespective of the speed of access requested or the volume of traffic requested.
• In case of wireless access, also the device cost is taken as one time charges which support a huge band of traffic whether requested or not.
• The new technologies like 4G and 5G are going to reduce the traffic cost as well and definitely the benefit of using new technology will
This is an attempt to monetize every investment and sure that policy action is important and definitely required by the regulator here to make sure that Internet which is the catalyst for growth in India remains in its form and purpose.
Some suggestions are
LISP – Limited Internet Service Provider – Any Internet Service Provider who wants to do discrimination should operate under a new category of LISP, so that users are aware of what is in store for them. This allows for transparency.
FISP – Full Internet Service Provider – Provides full access without discrimination and in case found to discriminate, strict actions should be taken.
User Discretion to seek and get lawful content is final. At the end, it is the user who is paying for it and his rights should be honored.