MUMBAI, INDIA: Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has pushed for an informed debate on Net Neutrality.
In a statement issued yesterday, COAI reaffirmed its support for Net Neutrality, but also also made a strong pitch for net equality that will enable access to Internet for a billion Indians as part of the government of India’s Digital India vision.
COAI opined that there is a need to ensure customers have the freedom to choose how they want to access the Internet. “A customer should be free to choose the device, technology and access platform—paid or subsidized as long as the Internet is always open in terms of access in a non-discriminatory manner,” it said in the statement. "We support this! The interests of a few should not dictate the fundamental right of a customer to choose what he/she wants."
Also making a strong pitch for Net equality, the association said, "We support an open Internet and believe that consumers, should decide what to do online. Our job is to enable consumers to benefit from that freedom. We offer choice and do not block or provide any preferential access to any website or app."
"An important and complex subject such as this, which is still being debated in many countries, which has taken years to conclude in many other countries and which is the subject of litigation in some, should not be left to the opinion of a few," it said in the statement.
According to the association, telecom operators have invested billions of dollars in license fees, spectrum fees and network roll-outs. “Yet the industry still makes negative return on the capital employed," it noted in the statement. “The industry estimates India would need an additional capital outlay of Rs 3 lakhcrore-Rs 5 lakh crore over the next 10 years in spectrum, new technology, equipment, towers, optical fiber backbone to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of Digital India and connect 1 billion Indians.”