Amid a raging debate on Net Neutrality, the Competition Commission today said it is looking into possible abuse of dominance by telecom and Internet companies.
A demonstrator checks her mobile phone as activists of Indian Youth Congress and National Students Union of India protest in support of net neutrality in New Delhi on April 16, 2015. Indias largest e-commerce portal Flipkart on April 14 scrapped plans to offer free access to its app after getting caught up in a growing row over net neutrality, with the criticism of Flipkart feeding into a broader debate on whether Internet service providers should be allowed to favour one online service over another for commercial or other reasons -- a concept known as "net neutrality". AFP
There are rising concerns over maintaining equal access to Internet amid some service providers entering into tie-ups for offering free access to certain mobile apps and websites.
Against this backdrop, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) member U C Nahta said here that it is looking into whether entities are abusing their dominant position.
The regulator is trying to understand whether such practices are just sectoral or tariff issues or whether they violate competition norms.
It is looking into whether telecom operators and Internet service providers are indulging in unfair business ways by extending preferential treatment to select mobile applications and websites.
Four days dna had written about how the consultation paper prepared by TRAI is anti-competitive and is protectionist in nature.
dna impact: Is TRAI masking an anti-competition stance behind net neutrality?
CCI, which keeps a tab on unfair business practices across sectors, orders a detailed probe into a matter only if there is prima-facie evidence of fair trade norms.
The principle of Net Neutrality implies equal treatment to be accorded to all Internet traffic, without discrimination or priority for any person, entity or company.
Recently, Bharti Airtel launched 'Airtel Zero' - an open marketing platform that allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free, with the data charges being paid by start-ups and large companies.
Over the past few months, operators like Reliance Communications and Uninor have tied up with players like Facebook, WhatsApp and Wikipedia to offer free usage to consumers.
Such moves are being seen as going against the Net Neutrality concept, which broadly refers to equal treatment for all Internet traffic. Giving priority to mobile applications or websites, based on payment is seen as discrimination.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has floated a consultation paper on the topic. In response to its paper, for which public comments have been sought till April 24, Trai has already been flooded with over 8 lakh petitions against any attempt to throttle the 'Net Neutrality' concept.
Recently, however, Trai Chairman Rahul Khullar said that "shrill voices" would not win the debate and the concept is not "practiced strictly" even in countries like the US and the UK.