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Telecom department and not TRAI to decide on net neutrality, says Prasad

NEW DELHI: The final decision on net neutrality will be taken by the telecom department and not the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), said Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

While lending his support to the popular sentiment in favour of an open Internet, Prasad said the common man should be able to access it without discrimination.

The telecom department has already set up a six-member panel to look into the issue. The panel will submit its recommendations next month, following which a final view will be taken on net neutrality.

The government’s views will be independent of what the TRAI recommends, said Prasad. “We are doing so (coming out with a report) independent of TRAI. This is happening for the first time because of the gravity of the matter.”

Net neutrality means equal and non-discriminatory access to all data, apps and services on the Internet.

“It (Internet) belongs to entire humanity and not to a few,” the minister tweeted, after convening a media briefing.

TRAI has received a hurricane of emails and petitions demanding the protection of net neutrality. This is in response to TRAI’s consultation paper on whether the over-the-top (OTT) services, which are delivered over the Internet by telecom operators and ISPs, should be licensed. The regulator has asked stakeholders to send their views by 24 April while counter-arguments need to be submitted by 8 May.