free speech
Internet and free speech activist staging a protest.Reuters

India's telecom watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) ruled in favour of net neutrality on Monday. 

"We have come out with a regulation which are essentially mandate that no service provider shall charge differential pricing," ANI quoted TRAI chairman Ram Sewak Sharma as saying.

The telecom regulator said Internet service providers will not be allowed to launch prohibited packs, plans or vouchers, Money Control reports.

"Prohibition of discriminatory tariff is necessary to ensure that service providers continue to fulfil obligations in keeping internet open and non-discriminatory," TRAI said.

The service providers will have to stop any differential plan that already exists, IBN Live quoted Sharma as saying. However, the telecom operators can charge different prices for data services "in case of emergency," but will need to inform TRAI beforehand, he added.

"A service provider may reduce tariff for accessing or providing emergency services at times of grave public emergency," ANI quoted Sharma as saying.

The regulations will come into effect immediately. If the regulations are violated, TRAI will levy a fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 50 lakh. "If a service provider is in contravention of these regulations TRAI may direct them to withdraw tariff," ANI quoted Sharma as saying.

"In the same situation, TRAI may also order the provider to pay Rs.50 k for each day of contravention upto Rs.50 lakh," Sharma added.

TRAI's regulation was based on as many as 24 lakh responses its Consultation Paper on Differential Pricing for Data Services received since December last year. 

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