Most of you that are reading this have grown up in a free and independent India. What this means is that we have always had the freedom to make our own decisions and choose what we think is best for us. And we are all guilty of taking this freedom for granted.
Now you must be thinking why I am talking about this, well because for the past couple of days there has been huge debate over telecom companies taking away our freedom to surf the internet in a free and fair manner. I am of course referring to the question of net- neutrality. This is a very controversial topic, something that has people up and arms against those that are trying taking away our freedom. If you still not sure about the importance of net-neutrality let me explain:
Internet was conceived with the idea of it being an open resource for everyone. It was a means to allow people from across the globe to connect with one another and exchange thoughts and ideas freely. Now in the present day scenario telecom companies are planning to offer you access to some internet services free of cost while others will require you to pay extra. There are no rules to specifically overrule such a decision but it is a step that is high questionable. This is because when a user connects to a website via his internet service provider (ISP) then that same internet connection, and speed, is used to access other websites and internet services as-well. Hence there is no reason why the internet service provider should charge extra money to access certain services and websites. This is what net-neutrality is all about, surfing the internet freely.
The following video explains Net Neutrality:
Since the inception of internet everyone has been free to access any sort of information, legally permitted, from the servers of their ISP. This freedom has been instrumental in the growth of internet across the world. Even if a website or blog was critical of their ISP, people have never been restricted access to that particular website or blog.
Net-neutrality has also been a game changer for businesses as it offers a common playing field and is not biased. You simply have to host your webpage on a server and you are ready to go. People will certainly favor your website or services if the users like it. It does not require huge amounts of money, like for other businesses. Facebook, Google and Flipkart are perfect examples of this. Their success has largely been due to the neutrality of the internet.
Airtel had recently received a lot of flak for having tried to charge its subscribers extra money for VOIP calls. This move was hugely condemned and Airtel had to take back its decision when people threatened to shun the telecom company. You would have thought that a company as big as Airtel would have learnt their lesson, but sadly this was not the case. They have again put their foot in their mouth with the whole Airtel Zero App. The sad part was that even Flipkart, which has grown due to net-neutrality, agreed to be a part of Airtel Zero. But after thousands of people expressed their anger at Flipkart’s decision on Twitter and other social media platforms, some users even down-voted the Flipkart App, they finally decided to walk away from the deal.
Another positive outcome of the public outburst, TRAI has received over 3 lakh mails asking for the government’s intervention, is that greedy ISPs are not getting any leverage from the government. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Indian telecom minister, is in favor of net-neutrality and has assured that a healthy internet ecosystem is important for not just India but the whole world. He further adds that the government wants innovation to thrive and this is only possible if everyone is given an equal and fair opportunity.