Telecom companies like Airtel, Telenor and Reliance Communications have sought a revenue-share model from content creators – a demand that was strongly opposed by content companies as “unfair and unreasonable” and against the tenets of net neutrality.
At an open house session called by Trai on the issue of net neutrality on Wednesday, telecom companies demanded commercial arrangements with content creators to further monetise their mobile networks. The telecom players have been pushing for a share of the advertising pie generated by content companies, saying that they have made investments in network and spectrum.
However, content companies say that telcos gain due to the popularity of their apps and websites that drive data consumption. The telcos’ plea was opposed by content creators and those representing not-for-profit organisations. Save The Internet volunteer and Medianama founder Nikhil Pahwa rejected the argument of mobile companies and said the approach suggested by them will lead to “extortion” by telcos. “Telecom com panies are unfairly trying to control access to the content,” Pahwa said. He dubbed the monetisation suggestion of telcos as “ridiculous” and said it should be rejected. “Commercial agreements reached upon by content companies are not the mandate of mobile companies.”
A representative of Reliance Communications said telecom operators should be given the leeway to deal with the commercial content or content-carrying advertisements.
Wrapping up the discussions, Trai said it is likely to finalise recommendations on net neutrality in a month’s time. “All stakeholders are actively participating in this (net neutrality) debate. I think Trai should be able to give appropriate recommendation to the government which they have asked for,” Trai chairman R S Sharma said.