[Editorial Notes: Guest article by Rishabh Gupta, COO of Housing.com.]
The nation is edging itself on a debate…on what we all are now familiar with – Net Neutrality.
Internet service providers treat all traffic equally. Users access any or all websites at the same speed or cost. This is net neutrality in simple terms. Keeping it neutral and not making it biased. If the regime of neutrality were to be abolished, the ISPs (Internet Service Provider) can then make you pay for choicest sites and keep other for free to access. There is a possibility of data discrimination on basis of costs or speed where network to a certain site can be degraded and to some others upgraded. Classifying of this kind would warrant that Internet users are exposed only to a few sites that would be free, from the current level-playing field that it commands.
India attained its freedom from the clutches of the British over 60 years ago. Its market got liberalised over 20 years ago. Colossal growth of broadband in the current decade witnessed a slew of innovative Internet companies having perched on the anvil, now making our daily living comfortable. This is the Internet revolution,which today statistically accounts for being the third largest in terms of number of Internet users, just behind China and US. These mammoth numbers swell up from just 20% penetration, proclaiming its potential strength going into the future.(Source: www.internetlivestats.com)
There is a contention that making Internet free to use can help deepen the penetration. Bringing the offline population online isn’t merely about zero pricing. The Internet is fairly affordable even today to the seeker. The question truly is about relevance. Most of the Internet scape is largely dominated by western companies and to bring content alive to an average Indian, it needs to be localised in language, spirit and necessity. To make this serving, home bred tech-enterprises play an essential ingredient in the recipe.
Discrimination of this nature could hurt that Indian tech start-up aspiring to be the next big player online. Further,it could demotivate the ones still in the womb, awaiting a sparkle of an amazing idea, apart from those currently incubating in resolve to break live in the tomorrow.
The idea of preserving net neutrality is purely in the interest of the Indian Internet ecosystem to not just sustain but thrive. Like Housing.com, there are a host of successful home-grown start-ups who grew and continue to solely thrive on the world wide web. Many of the young entrepreneurs have been able to see through their dream, and are ruling the roost even in the face of relentless competition, simply owing to the internet.If this bill sees itself through, this ecosystem in India developed after years of work could turn docile.
In a biased Internet regime, it will be an equally frustrating experience for the user, who currently uses the same speed and cost for free and fair access to any/every site based on his/her wish. This freedom will be violated. It is much like charging you for the water you use but dictating its use for washing, drinking and bathing separately or paying for your power bill but not having the liberty to use the electrical supply on the devices of your choice. Or worse, this is like buying an attire from a mega store but being alerted for restricted use.
India is far away from the erstwhile clutches of invasion and rule, and there cannot be a bigger calamity than the one facing us now.The impartial use and flow on the ‘world-wide-web’ is facing a looming bias and hopefully may better sense prevail. Any resolution that intrudes this freedom would mean a silent slaughter of creativity and innovation!
You can pledge your support to net neutrality by logging on to savetheinternet.in