TRAI Current Affairs

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India upholds net neutrality

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI ) has upheld the basic principles of an open and free internet in its recommendations on net neutrality.

Net neutrality means that telecom service providers must treat all internet traffic equally, without any regard to the type, origin or destination of the content or the means of its transmission. Proponents of net neutrality hold that all traffic on internet should be treated equally i.e. service providers should allow access to all content without favouring any particular product or website.

TRAI Recommendations

Prohibits Discrimination: It upholds basic principle of net neutrality by keeping Internet open and prohibits any Internet service providers (ISPs) from discrimination on basis of content by either blocking, throttling or fast-laning any websites, apps or web services.

Protection of rights of citizens: The internet use should be facilitated in such manner that it advances free speech rights of citizens, by ensuring plurality and diversity of views, opinions and ideas. It also restrains ISPs from entering into pacts with any person which discriminates on content, protocol or user equipment.

Exemptions: It excludes specialised services and content delivery networks (CDNs) from scope of any rules on net neutrality. It does not define specialised services and leaves it to DoT to identify these services. It also calls for keeping Internet of Things (IoT) within purview of non-discriminatory restriction with the exception of critical services.

It exempt CDNs from the scope of net neutrality rules arguing that CDNs add efficiency to network by reducing latency, mitigating congestion and freeing up network capacity for other purposes. CDNs are layer in Internet networks which are outside public Internet and are used by content generators to store their data at suitable geographical locations.

Setting up Multi-stakeholder body: Telecom and ISPs should deploy “reasonable” traffic management practices from time to time. It calls for setting up multi-stakeholder body to monitor and investigate whether ISPs are adhering to rules.

The body will be led by industry and comprise members representing different telecom and ISPs, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.

Significance

TRAI’s recommendations follow consultation process that lasted for 1 year, after Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sought TRAI’s views on issue in March 2016 to finalise a viewpoint on net neutrality. These recommendations will now be vetted by DoT and after its approval, changes with effect to licence agreements of telecom firms will be made to accommodate net neutrality. TRAI’s proposal to adhere net neutrality comes days after US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) had announced repealing of 2015 laws that aimed at upholding this broad principle of net neutrality.

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TRAI recommends 40% reduction in carbon emission by 2022-23 for sustainable telecommunications

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended 40% reduction in carbon emissions in telecom networks by 2022-23 considering 2011-12 as the base year in order to make telecom sector greener.

It was mentioned in TRAI’s recommendation to Department of Telecom (DoT) on approach towards sustainable telecommunications.

Key Facts

The target for reduction in carbon emission will be set as 30% by year 2019-20 taking base year as 2011-12 and 40% by year 2022-23. The targets will be reviewed in year 2022-23. TRAI has set target of 5% by year 2012-2013, 8% by 2014-2015, 12% by 2016-2017 and 17% by 2018-2019 for carbon emission reduction.

TRAI has suggested government to pass all benefits granted under various schemes for using renewable energy technologies (RET) to operators in order to encourage them to adopt clean energy alternatives. Further, it has recommended telecom operators to voluntarily adopt RET solutions, energy efficient equipments and high capacity fast charging storage solutions in order to meet target for reduction of carbon footprint.

TRAI also has suggested that electricity generated by RET solutions funded or maintained by telecom operators should be subtracted from overall carbon emission of company, irrespective of its use. Furthermore, if DoT adopts recommendations, it should allow service providers to adopt a Voluntary Code of Practice encompassing energy efficient network planning, deployment of energy efficient technologies, infra-sharing and adoption of RET.

If these recommendations are implemented by DoT, report of carbon footprint of telecom operators must submitted annually within 45 days after March of every year. The first report of carbon footprint for base year 2011-12 as per revised formula will be submitted within 3 months from date of issuance of instructions by DoT.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)

TRAI is an independent regulator of telecommunications business in India. It came into existence by Act of the Parliament in 1997. Its mandate is to deliver a fair and transparent environment for fair competition in telecom market. TRAI also fixes or revises the tariffs for telecom services in India.

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