Points made by Ritabrata Banerjee in the Rajya Sabha on 5th May 2015 on Net Neutrality Discussion

On behalf of the CPI (M) I support the ongoing struggle for net neutrality and strongly oppose the efforts of telecom companies to violate net neutrality.


 I rise here to strongly criticise the so-called consultation document published by TRAI, a document that supports the interests of telecom companies and internet monopolies against the people.


The Internet is becoming more and more important in people’s lives – as a source of knowledge, a means of communication, and as the vehicle for all forms of media.

This has led to the demand that the internet be declared a public utility and for the opposition to violations of net neutrality.


Neutrality over the internet has facilitated democratic collaboration of technology, content, communication and advanced innovations.


A number of telecom companies, such as Airtel and Reliance, along with some internet companies, offer “special packages”. They bundle only a few web sites and applications with their services, pretending that this limited internet is the whole internet.


Such cartels between the telecom companies and a few global internet monopolies will lead to further concentration of economic power on the internet.

 It will mean marginalising innovations and most of the progressive media, forcing them onto the platform of global internet monopolies. Under such conditions, only well-heeled companies and the rich will be able to offer content and services through the internet. 


Sir today is 5th of May. 197 years ago on this very day world’s greatest philosopher was born. Karl Marx had noted “the ideas of ruling class in every epoch are the ruling ideas. The class which has at its disposal the means of material production also in turn controls the means of mental production”. Today’s struggle for net neutrality shows the eternity of his words.


Sir, I want the government to look upon a very serious matter.

The telecom companies argue that they need more money to build infrastructure and meet the demand of new internet based services. Hence, they claim, they need to violate net neutrality.


  What the telecom companies do not disclose is that the revenues from their data services are growing rapidly — and by 100 per cent in 2014 alone — and are more than sufficient to build additional infrastructure.


The reality is every quarter shows a huge leap in the revenues of the Telecom Companies from services and apps such as Facebook, Whatsap Youtube. The revenues are fuelled from data services.


What telecom companies are asking therefore is to be paid twice. We as users pay to telecom companies for these services through our internet rates.


They also want the internet companies to pay them more money for speeding up their services. Not to reduce our rates but to make even more money than they are making today


 Violating net neutrality, as TRAI has proposed, will only provide telecom companies a perverse incentive not to expand their infrastructure. The more the scarcity, the more the money they can extract from internet service-providers and websites.

People all over the world are fighting this unholy nexus between telecom and internet companies to fence in the internet. The Competition Commission in India has begun investigations into telecom companies for violating net neutrality.

I on behalf of the CPI(M)  request the Government to define the internet as a public utility.