Unless you have been living under a rock over the past few days, you might have noticed that the issue of net neutrality has fast gathered steam amongst netizens in India, which is heartening to see. When Arnab Goswami bellows the term “Net Neutrality”, you know the debate has gone mainstream from just a twitter outrage that fizzles out. Why is net neutrality important? This question has been answered by many people, with eloquent analogies, like AIB’s video here about a swing in a park; some have equated it to the toll on a highway. Even the Amul girl has given her take on it.
Whichever way you want to perceive it, one thing’s for sure, net neutrality is not a choice and we support it. We need an ecosystem that gives everyone equal access to all parts of the internet.The moment we start differentiating between traffic it opens a pandora’s box, it breaks the openness of Internet. ISP’s can start ensuring YouTube videos stream faster or slower, your Hike messages arrive faster than Whatsapp messages or your competitor’s website loads much faster than yours; depending on who pays the telcos and whose pockets are deeper. It is not just the Telcos who are arguing against keeping the net neutral. In the US, 60 companies who built the Internet Backbone (Cisco, Juniper, IBM, Intel etc) came out openly against efforts to keep the net neutral. A non-neutral net takes away the power of the end user to access what he/she wants on the Internet. And it’s not just our right that we are talking about, it is also the progress of the markets that is being affected.
Take Ola, for example. The amazing company that disrupted taxi services in India, Ola itself was once a small company that was trying to make its presence felt. What would have happened if the established taxi companies had a ‘fast lane’ for their app traffic while the Ola App was in the slow lane? And all transactions made on the app were painfully slow unless we paid more money to speed it up? And that every taxi ride would also have a premium attached to it? Not only would we not be able to book cabs seamlessly, we’d even be paying more than required, and there would be no Ola. The reason why Ola Cabs could grow into one of the biggest companies in India is because there were no such restrictions!
Zero Rating(Airtel Zero)’s most damning fall-out would be stifling innovation and nipping startups with the potential to change the world in the bud. The guy with deep pocket would always win. And that is what scares me. I’m a startup guy. I believe in the ability and the right of two dreamers sitting in a garage to pick up the gantlet and disrupt existing structures. All because they have an internet connection.
At Croak.it! previously, and at Exotel now, I see people coming in, to work every day with an optimism bordering on insanity. The belief that the company will change how things work. That Exotel will be at the forefront of the cloud telephony revolution. How we will go about achieving this is by providing the best service and the best product, not by stamping out competition! Internet Service Providers should be bending over backward to provide the best service to consumers, not using us as leverage to have people pay for bandwidth.
As Al Pacino once said memorably in the movie Scent of a Woman, “When the sh*t hits the fan, some guys run, and some guys stay”. Well, we are staying, and we urge you to stay as well. This is the time to take a stand, and to fight for the right to dream, the right to see your favorite youtube video, the right to see that cat gif, even the right to be able to send rude WhatsApp messages to your friends and family.With the growth of the internet, in today’s day and age, unfettered and equal access to each corner of the interweb should be a fundamental right, yes, even if you want to watch Justin Bieber videos all day long.
So join us in asking TRAI to support net neutrality. This is how you can do it:
1. Go to savetheinternet.in and SIGN the petition, TODAY
3. Tell ALL your friends and family to do this as well
4. Thank the guys who put up savetheinternet.in and all others who made this debate happen
5. Go watch a video of a thug cat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoUEQYjYgf4
Protik is the Product Manager at Exotel.