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TRAI has to first look into net neutrality before CCI steps in

NEW DELHI: Competition Commission chairman Ashok Chawla said that net neutrality is a policy issue and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has to first take a stand on this.

Chawla said that the fair trade watchdog will look into the matter as and when it reaches its door.

“It has not come to us. We will see when it comes. This is a policy issue. The regulator [TRAI] has to decide first. Based on whatever happens in terms of behaviour as in conformity and not in conformity of policy, we will see and in any case if they are going to interact with us they are welcome,” CCI chairman Ashok Chawla told PTI.

Net neutrality has been a hotly debated subject ever since TRAI came out with a consultation paper seeking stakeholder comments whether over-the-top (OTT) platforms should be brought under regulatory framework.

Airtel and Facebook recently faced flak respectively for their Airtel Zero and initiatives that were deemed to be anti-net neutrality. Several OTT players pulled out of Airtel Zero and to show solidarity with net neutrality.

Chawla said that the fair trade regulator had dealt with 600 antitrust cases in the past seven years. It had also handled 475 cases related to mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the past four years. “We are getting 10 M&A cases every month,” Chawla said.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary panel on Information Technology held its first meeting with telecom operators Airtel, Vodafone and Idea on the controversial issue of Net Neutrality on Thursday.

The next meeting will be held in June. The committee will call all stakeholders and submit an in-depth study on the issue of net neutrality.