The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has taken a strong stance against zero-rating services that it believes violate the principles of net neutrality. The industry body submitted its thoughts on the DoT panel’s report regarding the issue last week.
The IAMAI feels that zero-rating will ultimately harm Internet-based content and service providers by limiting competition among them. It would restrict a user’s choice and let telecom companies control what apps or websites to thrust towards them. Such a move could result in the favoring of certain companies over others and would choke out any potential innovation.
In particular, the IAMAI doesn’t support any initiatives that go against the foundations of net neutrality, especially paid or unpaid prioritization or similar discriminatory practices. The association is further not in favor of the DoT committee’s proposal to regulate domestic VoIP calls made through services such as WhatsApp or Viber.
It thinks such a system would go directly against public interest and future innovations. Not only that, it contends that such regulations would be impractical since such services are mostly offered as part of a bundled package. The organization also fears the repercussions which might occur by controlling one type of internet utility, saying it may be the beginning of a slippery slope.
The IAMAI claims such regulation could lead to a demand for so called ‘same service same rules’ for other online resources as well. The industry body maintained that while traffic management is a technical right bestowed upon telecom providers, having the power doesn’t mean it should be used to charge customers differently for the various types of data they consume.
Interestingly, the IAMAI counts Facebook and Airtel as part of its members. Such a negative stand on zero-rating platforms goes against what the two companies have been espousing ever since the controversy over net neutrality blew up.