Pramod Biligiri's Blog

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We don't need no Net Neutrality!
pramod kde
Users of Airtel broadband in India have been sent an SMS saying their Internet speed will be freely upgraded to 2 Mbps for the ongoing IPL tournament -

While I initially thought "Great!", only much later did I read the message closely: The upgrade is only for the IPL Youtube channel. And they are the Official broadband sponsor for the event.

As the Airtel website says:
1. The 2 Mbps speed is an automatic upgrade , only applicable for
2. For all others site customers will get their current plan speeds.

I decided to double check if I understand the term Net Neutrality correctly. From the Google itself, here is a blog post:

What isn't okay?
Prioritizing data packet delivery based on the ownership or affiliation (the who) of the content, or the source or destination (the what) of the content;

So Airtel clearly violates that principle. India does not have any laws related to Net Neutrality. So no problems on that front.

Where do I stand? In principle I am with Airtel, as I think ISPs should have the freedom to prioritize whatever traffic they want. I don't like Google or any other company fighting the ISP businesses using such legislation. You have to recognize that the lines between an ISP, media company and content provider can get blurred, as Google itself is indicating nowadays.

But there's a larger point to be made here about Airtel itself. I don't like how big the company has become given the nature of its business. They are a telecom carrier, internet provider, and television content transmitter. I see them all as fundamentally rent-seeking operations - where you buy a resource off from the government and sell it to consumers at a profit. Whatever regulation we have that seeks to limit the size and influence of such companies has failed. It's not nice when Airtel is one of the top 10 Indian companies by market capitalization.

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