In earlier days, the only medium of communication was road. There was no post, no telegram, and of course no phones or short messaging services. If you wanted to send someone a message, you or your messenger had to hit the road, and go and deliver the message to the concerned person.
It was in such time that post came up. But back then, Airtel et al. didn’t exist, and even for those who were the stakeholders of roads, there weren’t much road taxes to earn. Moreover, the new service, the Post, was owned by them, the govt, so they had nothing to worry about, with respect to the concern that less people would use the roads now that The Post was here.
Fast forward to the late ‘90s, when phones started appearing in one household after another. It then turned into the mobile revolution, where the use of the biggest medium of communication, The Indian Post, was tumbling down like anything. Soon we were to have a generation that wouldn’t know what an inland letter was, and probably what was the color of Postman’s uniform, even.
Airtel was already there in the picture now, but on the other side of the table. The difference was that the country celebrated the mobile revolution, and no one, not even the suddenly most ignored postman asked Airtel, or for that matter any of the numerous telephone companies to compensate for their drowning market.
If anything, there were courier services cropping up, which the post had to fight too, but they tried and came up with EMS Speed Post and on last check three days back, my Amazon order reached me through the said Speed Post less than 16 hours after I placed the order. They faltered, but they didn’t beg, and have survived.
Fast forward to very recent times, say 2014. The year when all of a sudden, every third ad on the TV was selling you an app, and Facebook decided it needed to spend a fortune to buy Whatsapp. Of course, something had changed. People were suddenly Hiking and WeChatting and more than anything Whatsapping all the time. The SMS revenues were going down, and data plans were taking their place.
The mode of communication had changed again, communication which used to happen through road, and then post, and then calls and SMS, had moved to Internet. The mighty Internet. Mighty, because this one had not only changed the way we talked to our near and dear ones, but even to the nearby shopkeeper. The phone had changed this field only minutely, there wasn’t much business done on phone, not for the common man, but Internet was different, because now you didn’t need to go to the nearby shop to buy your food and clothes and cellphones. It could be bought over the internet. The internet was the new road, the very road that took you wherever you wanted to go, and will be more and more so in coming days.
But this time, unlike past, they are crying. The mobile companies, which also provide you with the internet, are saying that this was not to be. That their revenues are going down (like it never happened to anyone before, like they didn’t capture anyone else’s business), that they are losing because of the rise of the internet as a mode of communication that threatens their established revenue model (like I don’t pay for a data plan), that they have a right to decide how I should use my Internet so that their established revenue model remains (and of course they can earn more through data plans anyway).
This time, what they want is that, while they have been charging you for the road they are letting you travel, the Internet that is, they would also decide the price you pay to go to a particular shop. Got it?
I mean, if internet is a road, and say, Flipkart and Amazon are two shopkeepers (that you know of, there are others of course) to whose shops you can go through this road, it should be upto the telcos to decide how much they charge you to enter these particular shops, above their metered charged for the road travelled that has to be their anyway.
Sounds strange? Well it does because it IS strange. Just because your old business is giving way to new, something that always happens, you want to decide how should I use the service that you didn’t make in the first place? The makers of Internet have tried really hard to keep it free and now you want to kill it all for your profits?
Think of someone asking for that in the real world. Someone standing in front of a shop and asking you for money to enter a shop, when the shop is not theirs. You’d say they simply want to own the world. Well, that is the case here. Internet is the new world, and our dear mobile service providers want to own this new world. Does anyone have a problem?
To support Net Neutrality, sign this petition.
For more details, you could check Medianama.