Net Neutrality in Nepal
Net Neutrality in Nepal Image Credit: flickr.com - kevin

Have you ever thought about the reason behind free Twitter, Wikipedia in Ncell Network in Nepal or about free Facebook in India via Internet.org. This program is called Zero-rating where the telecom operators and Internet Service Providers (ISP) provide service from the selected sites free of charge. Recently our survey showed that most Nepalese would prefer Ncell over NTC because they can use free Twitter and Wikipedia. 

If you have a lot of followers then you can even chat with friends and share images, see great posts with the confined walls of specific website or the official application. Few days ago due to road extension work electricity and telephone (ADSL) was down at our workstation so we were using mobile data then we remembered about Ncell’s free Twitter service. Within 5 hours we were totally enjoying it with messaging, sharing images, posting, tagging etc and all of it because it was FREE. Apart from increasing use of AdBlock publishers and website owners are threatened by huge publishers.

Internet and data is the new telecom’s biggest revenue source because of massive and increasing consumption. It is somewhat costlier than for average people but most of the people seem to be investing heavily for internet by buying data packs and unlimited connection. It is pretty obvious that free service will attract and create huge engagement for the service. This will benefit the company due to larger conversion rate and telecom companies as well because of people preferring their service.

Many people of countries including USA, India etc are fighting for Net Neutrality, it is a concept where all ISP should serve all types on content without biasing the creator, website or company. If these types of schemes become more active and people become addicted to them it will be very bad for this beautiful internet. Internet.org was also criticized a lot in many debates, they say that they want to provide service to many people as possible.

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What happens in if Net Neutrality isn’t maintained?

Many telecom operators and ISP have tried, lobbied to remove net neutrality. It is because if Net neutrality isn’t maintained media companies can pay huge money to these service providers so that they will serve their content faster and for free. This way people will obviously and  always prefer those sites. This means end of startup and open choice. Once we get taste of free things we stop visiting other sites because our providers will charge money. Thus the new websites will never get chance to grow, where many may be really good content creators.

Benefits of free service

These companies, service providers are screaming that it will help more people to get internet access and get service. Getting Wikipedia for free is awesome because it provides you the biggest collection of information for free and without being charged to surf it.Okay lets accept that few of them are enjoying it but the fact is the target they are talking about isn’t able to buy the devices and pay for internet connection.

Net Neutrality Symbol
Net Neutrality Symbol

A term “Express Lane” is used in this context, many medias want to do the same, they would pay internet companies some money to serve us their product at higher speed than others. This will force many other sites to be in slower lane and people will be apparently drawn towards premium services.

Analysis and prediction

Many people might still be thinking that I don’t use the internet much so I don’t have to worry about paying them but lets see. As we have heard Internet.org is trying to get active in India which mainly provides Facebook for free with some other sites. In Nepal Twitter, Wikipedia is free so we can say if the new neutrality gets shattered big companies like Google including YouTube will be free. But imagine scrolling down on your News feed and seeing a great article which you want to read but then you see that you will be charged extra for accessing the site. Then you definitely won’t open it, but in today’s time you can open everything you want. Many and lets say most of the websites and creators won’t be able to pay or sponsor for the content which will kill this big web eventually. This will just leave big media companies without any type of competition to get rich.

Solution

If the media houses and websites really want to help people to get connected the deals must be done with telecommunication authorities to reduce the tariff and provide internet cheap or free instead of treating the content and websites differently. Many might say that free service like Wikipedia is beneficial but think about the bright future with really cheap or free internet(if possible).

The possibility and benefits will than be limitless. I once read that TV channels used to be free like radio are till now but as the demand and consumer base increased they made everyone pay per channel. If this isn’t stopped people will slowly digest it. The NTA and other companies haven’t raised or lobbied about this matter but remember if anyone does we should be with concept of Net Neutrality every time.

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