Since last few days a debate about Net Neutrality is going on among Netizens. Airtel Zero, TRI, Government, DOT, Flipkart, Inertnet.org, Facebook and Reliance geo are the important entities involved into this. Let’s see what the case is.
The public infrastructure should be equally accessible to everyone. Irrespective of gender, nationality, or wealth a person should be able to access the same which others can. This is the fundamental of Net Neutrality. Internet should not be governed and controlled by anyone and you should not be forced to see or not to see any content on the Internet. The Free Internet is a term related to accessibility of it and not Cost.
Now we know the ideology of equality and Neutrality exists in theory only. Be it temple, roads, air or water the richer have more privilege then the poorer, or at least one would have to settle with less or no choices. You love to drink Pepsi but still you will have to settle with Coke, why? Because you get it “free” with the burger you are buying. Though it is not free, you are already paying cost of soft drink in burger only. But you still will have to buy it because you are forced to pay for it. In some cases you can buy Pepsi as well but at additional cost. And again only if they sell both.
That is what Airtel Zero, Facebook’s Internet.org and Reliance Geo is doing.
They are offering free internet access to users. But finally we know not even meals are free how Internet can be. There are many apps, websites, stores and Internet based companies selling their products and services online. The Telcos and these so called “Free Internet” providers charge these companies. Companies would be paying to be accessible on the Internet and against which the Telcos will block their competitors or will charge users if they use them. Like on Facebook’s free internet you will access Bing for free and that way Microsfot would fulfill their dream of being “No 1” Search engine. Or may be on telcos’ free internet you will be able to access Flipkart.com for free and wont be able to access amazon.in or will have to pay to use it. Mind will they will block hundreds and thousands of smaller sites as well during this.
The primary rules of Net Neutrality are:
- All sites and services must be equally accessible
- All sites must be accessible at same speed
- The cost of access must be same for each site
But none of the big or small companies are in mood of following this.
There are multiple views and consequences of this and here are my thoughts on it.
- Cash reach Companies would be able to block competitors and this way will kill competition
- There are chances Internet Startups having less cash in their pocket wont be able to compete for bandwidth. So this kills Startups and young entrepreneur with less financial backup.
- Users are getting free internet access but wont have many choices. Will have to settle with whatever they are receiving
- There are chances free internet plans would be slower and will open up a new consumer segment who gets used to Internet and will move to faster, paid plans.
- Free internet will help Internet companies increasing their customer base and revenue.
- Companies would be diverting their marketing money to block competition so advertisement segment may impact adversely
- As competition is removed there are chances of buyers receiving inferior quality of products and services
Flipkart.com was part of Airtel Zero actually and after being criticized heavily, Just in 48 hours Flipkart has started talking about Net Neutrality. Telcos are really being hungry eating out superb revenue flow of Internet based companies and trying out all the ways to do so. When and how? It is just matter of time.
In the society where the access to god is even not neutral, how can we talk on Net Neutrality.