New Delhi: With the deadline for seeking comments on the Net neutrality report is ending tomorrow, there has been a huge surge in public response on the consultation paper posted on mygov website following campaign by net activists.
Till Monday about 530 comments were seen on the paper. However, by Friday evening the number of comments surged to around 16,000.
"We appealed people to raise their voice to protect freedom of internet today and we have seen good response. AIB (the stand-up comedy group) released a video on tube explaining people about Net neutrality. People have responded after seeing that video," Save The Internet Volunteer Nikhil Pahwa told PTI.
The government has placed the report of panel set up by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Net neutrality for public view on mygov website. The government will firm up regulation after considering public opinion and telecom regulator TRAI's suggestions.
"Number of comments were just 700 in the morning. In just a few hours they have crossed 15,000 despite erratic and slow wesbite. I expect government will scale its infrastructure and allow more people to comment on it," Pahwa said.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in April had received over 10 lakh comments on its paper over Net neutrality with majority demanding implementation of ideal Net neutrality.
Net neutrality implies that equal treatment be accorded to all Internet traffic and no priority be given to an entity or company based on payment to content or service providers such as telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory.
The panel has proposed regulation of domestic calls on Internet-based apps like Skype, Whatsapp and Viber by putting them on par with services offered by telecom operator.However, the committee suggested liberal approach to app-based international calls.
The pricing difference is around 12.5 times in the case of a voice call and 16 times for messages between services offered by telecom operators and OTT players, as per data put together by telecom regulator TRAI.
The debate picked up in India following telecom major Bharti Airtel announcing a plan to separately charge for VoIP calls separately at standard rates.
Based on standard rates, usage of each GB of data for VoIP on 3G network would have costed about Rs 4,000 and while the same on 2G network would cost about Rs 10,000.
Under schemes, Airtel was then selling 1GB of 3G data for Rs 249 and 1 GB of 2G internet for Rs 175. The company withdrew separate charge plan following protest from public.
The debate further heated up after Airtel launched a zero rating platform which allowed free access of those websites who paid for joining the platform.
The committee also opposed platforms like Facebook's Internet.Org that allow access to certain websites without mobile data charges, while suggesting that similar plans by Bharti Airtel be allowed with prior clearance from TRAI.
Both Facebook and Airtel have defended their platform saying they support net neutrality.
Majority of the comments posted in response to the paper say "We don't want net neutrality defined by telecom companies.We don't want telcos to control the Internet. You cannot charge differently for different websites",
"We want to be able to access anything on the Internet, at any given time, without having to pay more for it separately. That's the real meaning of Net Neutrality and not what telcos or Internet.Org defines it."
Facebook too is running public campaign to make a case before lawmakers for allowing its free Internet access platform Internet.Org.