India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel has approached the country’s telecoms regulator for its view on whether its plan to partner with an unamed US content provider violates the principles of net neutrality.
According to the Economic Times, Airtel has contacted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) before finalising a deal with an unnamed US firm, which would supply the market leader with video content on an exclusive basis over the operator’s intranet.
Prashant Sugathan, counsel at Software Freedom Law Centre India, told the Times: “Airtel’s proposal would flout the principles of net neutrality and must not be entertained by the regulator. If approved, Airtel would clearly be discriminating by favouring one global content provider, and denying others… from reaching out to its sizeable customer base.”
The market leader is looking for clarification on the net neutrality issue from TRAI, which earlier in the year said discriminatory pricing was not allowed for data services, but it exempted services offered over closed networks or intranets, the Times reported. This is viewed by some as a loophole that the regulator should close.
Airtel said in its letter to the regulator it was confident the content distribution deal wouldn’t run afoul of TRAI’s discriminatory pricing rule, but the operator was concerned it could be viewed to violate the principles of net neutrality.
The country’s operators are waiting for clarification from the regulator on whether they can partner with app firms to offer content to users at differential prices over closed networks.