Webinar | Net Neutrality, Access and Network Capacity in the times of a pandemic | April 25, 2020, 11:30 AM IST

The Takshashila Institution and the Internet Freedom Foundation are hosting a webinar on Net Neutrality, Access and Network Capacity in the times of a pandemic.

We’re in the middle of an unprecedented global crisis. Covid-19 has thrown our life into disarray and has us exploring newer means of reaching out to people. All of these solutions involve access to the internet. How do we implement these solutions in a country that has constantly been undermining access to a free and safe internet?

If we’re using the internet to stay connected, we also need to address the most fundamental problems with its infrastructure and distribution. Access, Bandwidth, the costs and speed at which internet services are available are crucial questions. This lecture will aim towards recognising the extent of these problems and finding ways to deal with the crisis and the road that lies ahead.

Saturday, 25th April, 11:30AM - 13:00PM

Register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd0nLv3QYI1ILmwVy_M328qEot8xQmph3unaiV9HwxfWNtUzw/viewform

Know the Speakers:

Prateek Waghre is a Research Analyst with the Technology and Policy Programme at The Takshashila Institution. His research interests include the impact of technology in democratic networked societies, internet shutdowns, information disorder and major issues affecting the internet policy space in India. Before Takshashila, he spent 8 years working in consulting and product management roles at one of the world’s largest Content Delivery Networks.

Apar Gupta is a lawyer and the Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF). He has been working extensively on public interest issues which include strategic litigation and organisation of campaigns and collectives. In courts, Apar’s work as a lawyer includes key digital rights cases on privacy and censorship. He served as a counsel in key constitutional challenges on Section 66A, the Right to Privacy and Aadhaar, the Kashmir Internet Shutdown case representing public interest litigants. In 2020 he was inducted as an Ashoka Fellow for his work at IFF.


Hi, I missed this Webinar. Is there a way you could share the recording link? Thanks!

Kapil, just made a request with Takshashila for the recording. Will update my takeaways post with the link whenever it is made available.

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Folks, this was a really fun conversation – and this is not because I got Zoom bombed! Coming to the topic at hand. This was a wonderful conversation lead substantially by Prateek Waghre from Takshashila. You can get a sense of various data side trends in the telecom sector that were used in a presentation to accompany the lecture.

Click here to download the presentation and Click here to stream the session

My broad takeaways from this chat are as follows:

  • The Indian telecom sector has largely been a growth and access story in terms of driving greater number of user adoption. However, this is concentrated in zones of economic growth which is an incidence of urbanisation where we see a higher concentration of user connections. This disparity needs to be addressed urgently. It requires a mix of policy and technical incentives that are discussed later in the call and also ties in with parts of the conversation where we discuss is access to the internet a fundamental right by itself.

  • The continuing growth of the sector, especially in terms of user adoption will come in for some amount of stress in future. This is due to greater market concentration in the number of competing firms (effectively we are having three private and one state mobile access providers). This will have the effect of over a period of time driving up prices. Secondly even the existing firms (specially Vodafone-Idea and Airtel) will pay massive amounts due to the AGR judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court which may increase financial stress and impact their ability to invest and upgrade network infrastructure. A longer conversation on the AGR judgement and its impact is further contained in the video.

  • Specifically on Net Neutrality some questions arose in the context of the Jio-Facebook deal. While the impacts on competition, innovation are much more foreseeable if one considers the data side functionality and deals which may occur in future, any impact on net neutrality is less certain. This is due to the cemented protections for net neutrality in multiple policy statements by the Government as well as its clear basis in regulation and the licensing conditions. However, we are still left with the tricky bit of ensuring that these substantive protections are implemented through a clear, effective and independent enforcement body. Here, Jio in it’s regulatory submissions has advocated a, “industry lead body”, rather than a, “multi-stakeholder body” which would include academics, experts and civil and digital rights organizations. It goes without saying we are committed to ensuring that diverse stakeholders should be a part of the enforcement framework and remain watchful against any dilution of net neutrality protections in India.

I would like to thank Rohan from the Takshashila Institution for making this happen. The participation was high at about 180 registrations out of which about 90 showed up and about 60 stayed till the end for a high amount of feedback and conversation.

Psssst… on Zoom usage and privacy concerns – yes, some of the webinars are with external partners and do utilise Zoom as much as we are making best efforts to choose tools which are towards the privacy conscious community we have at IFF. You can see a longer discussion on Zoom and how we are approaching the issue here.