New Delhi: Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hinted that government may back an open Internet to spread digital literacy.
Prasad said that common men should be able to access Internet without discrimination and declared that the final decision on the controversial net neutrality issue will be taken by the telecom department and not the regulator.
Prasad informed that the panel examining the issue will submit its report by the second week of May to help the government to take a decision on the issue. The panel was set up in January.
"The entire process of a committee of experts going into the pros and cons of the issue will benefit the government in making comprehensive decisions," he said, adding that "This is the reason we are doing it independent of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)."
The six-member panel, which will conduct the study and submit its report, has been set up the department of telecommunications (DoT).
"The internet is one of the finest creations of the human mind. To become global, it must have an integral link to local. I am equally proud of the great role young people have played in the field of net expansion. There must be non-discrimination and digital inclusion," Prasad said.
Official sources said the government is conscious of the support for the issue by netizens after certain firms argued that they should be allowed to charge more for certain applications and services.
The latest fight for net neutrality gained momentum after TRAI put up a consultation paper on the topic asking users to give their views before April 24.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality means that governments and internet service providers should treat all data on the internet equally - therefore, not charging users, content, platform, site, application or mode of communication differentially.
An e-mail campaign has been launched to protect net neutrality through savetheinternet.in website. The home page of the website says: "This page was created as a collection of the best arguments that may be made in favour of net neutrality, in the framework of the TRAI consultation paper.
"The purpose is to assist supporters of strong net neutrality in articulating their own views on the matter in a legally precise manner." The deadline for submission of views is on April 24, 2015.
Bharti Airtel recently launched Airtel Zero, an open marketing platform that will allow customers to access mobile applications at zero data charges.
The US Federal Communications Commission has defended its stand on net neutrality and its commissioner Mignon Clyburn said: "The rules will ensure that the internet remains the great equalizer of our time."