Net Neutrality is the most important principle which affects all internet users. This states that all ISP should treat all types of data equally. It means they should not treat any type of websites, data, app differently. It is very important to maintain the beautiful internet we currently use. Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) is now making framework and policies to enforce Net Neutrality in Nepal.NTA is working with experts, consultants and TRAI of India to make this happen. They are going to enforce the policy with ISP license. This means ISP who get license from NTA has to obey those rules. After implying this, Nepali Internet Service Providers won’t be able to go against the principle of Net Neutrality.
This is a very hot issue in USA as well. On June 11, the FCC repealed the net neutrality rules. Some states have actually made state level laws to fight against it. The states with such laws require the ISPs in their areas to follow the rules. Many states are following the same. It is very important to understand why these rules are absolutely necessary in Nepal also. As most internet companies are American, rules of USA can affect it hugely.
What is Net Neutrality?
As the principle states that all data should be treated equal. This means service providers can’t prioritize any website, apps or other companies. They have to give equal bandwidth to all the sites and requests made by users. This also means ISP can’t support Zero and differential rating. For example: We can open any website we want from our browser and they get full speed that the our internet service contract states. If there is no net neutrality policy then ISP can throttle the speed of some website and charge us more.
Currently we pay certain amount of money to user internet and surf any site we want. For example, we pay Rs 700/month for NTC ADSL and surf any website, download anything we want. But if there is no Net Neutrality, ISP can charge additional amount on top by making special packages. They could make Social media package and ask additional money for selected sites. They could ask us additional just for Viber and Whatsapp.
In next scenario sites like Facebook or Twitter may pay ISP and make contract to let users surf their site free. With this people will only surf their sites and as ISP could charge additional for surfing other sites people won’t go to those sites. This means end of open and free internet. Actually this has already happened in Nepal and many other countries.
Net Neutrality in Nepal
Ncell was providing free Twitter and Facebook and this is called Zero Rating. They charged no money for those sites but charged for others. This caused users to stay on these sites and not use others. It is a very big illusion of free internet to people. To empower everyone, we need full free internet where users can surf whole world wide web and browse any site. Such zero rating game just creates a walled garden where only colluding sites benefit and rest of the world is cut off.
It is very important to make sure that all Nepali ISPs follow the rules and play fair. Because they can go rogue anytime and collude with shady service providers. There can be many serious problems and most of all we could loose our beloved free internet. It is to be noted that Data Packs are not violation of net neutrality principles. NTA is doing a very good job and they must ensure that there is no loophole in policies and Nepali ISP adhere to the net neutrality principles and serve Nepali citizens with full honesty.