#InternetNeutrality – A Different Perspective

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By Anubhav Saxena
(anubhav.r.saxena@gmail.com)

The origination of World Wide Web, alias Internet alias Net, dates back to the late sixty or early seventies, creating an opportunity for flow and exchange of information within world, communities, races and cultures. By 1985, Internet was well established as a technology supporting broad community of researchers and developers, and was beginning to be used by other communities for daily computer communications. The growth continued resulting in evolution of Internet spreading its tentacles to commercial sector. Starting in the early 1980’s and continuing to this day, the internet grew beyond its primary research roots to include both a broad user community and increased commercial activity.

Commercialization of the internet involved not only the development of competitive, private network services, but also the development of commercial products implementing the internet technology. The internet has and will indeed continue to evolve at the speed of the computer industry if it is to remain relevant. It has, over a period and still, changing to provide new services such as real time support, e.g. audio and video streams.

The availability of pervasive networking along with powerful affordable computing and communications in portable form is helping the reachability of internet. With IT & Telecom merging, the evolution of internet has brought in new applications – Internet telephony, IPTV etc.Purchase of commodities, fashion and electronics has gone the internet’s way. Socialization has gone virtual.

In this high paced environment, the need for internet is fast becoming essential for one’s survival. The use, however, depends on individuals; some use it for increasing productivity, for raising awareness, socializing, information sharing or freedom of speech etc.

The real world, however, is very commercial in its approach, and the business houses are quick to latch on to a fast catching concept. With the success of Internet in the last 10 years, has come a proliferation of stakeholders, with an economic as well as intellectual investment in the network.

The internet’s success is in fostering innovation, access to knowledge and freedom of speech but due to intense lobbying by telecom operators, TRAI is planning to block apps and websites, which would mean that operators could carve the Internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP can possibly slow down its competitor’s content or block political opinions it disagrees with. ISPs can possibly charge extra fees to a few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment.

Net Neutrality is the Internet’s guiding principle; it preserves our right to communicate freely online. Net Neutrality means an Internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks.

Having stated all that, I wonder, is it a boon or a bane for us to be denied Net Neutrality?

Internet has really helped on one hand and on the other; it has drastically altered our lifestyle. We are at rapid pace moving from real world to the virtual world.

An evening with friends at a joint has shrunk to social networking updates, likes, comments and online chats, but at the same time has also given an opportunity to expand one’s social network and stay connected in this ever dynamic and competitive environment.

Sharing of printed pics within family and friends involved photo print costs, which has now become more affordable with high storage mediums and social networking sites/messengers offering sharing of pics and videos with your beloveds, at the same or reduced costs.

Would blocking of certain apps and sites mean the end of world for us or exploitation by the business houses?

I guess not, we just have to switch old ways to help roll back the ball in consumers favour. Operators earn from the number of subscribers using their service, thus time has come, when we need to wisely limit our internet usage and use the old ways of socialising, sharing, shopping or reading. The less we use the internet, the more operators would be forced to drop their lobbies and rope in consumers back to use their services. Reverse psychology at times is an effective tool when the rest fails!

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