New Delhi : The Government will today get an opportunity to clarify its stand in the Rajya Sabha on the net neutrality controversy kicked up by a consultation paper of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) seeking public views.

Trinamool Congress member Derek O’Brien’s call-attention motion has been admitted for knowing the government’s stand on the issue of safeguarding the net neutrality in the country. TRAI has put the government in a fix as it did not consult the government before circulating the consultation paper in March inviting public views by April 24 on 20 questions regarding use of free phone and messaging services like Skype, Viger, Whatsapp and Facebook.

Seizing a similar opportunity given by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi casting aspersions on the government in a zero hour mention in the Lok Sabha on April 22 to snatch away the free net in the garb of the net neutrality debate, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said he had already constituted a panel in January, two months before the TRAI consultation, to consider the issues and he can say anything further only after getting its report next week (second week of May).

Prasad had, however, made it clear that the government is not bound to go by whatever is TRAI recommendation, particularly when it remains committed to the PM”s digital India campaign to allow full access of the Internet to all 125 crore people in the country.

Even before TRAI firms up its view on the basis of some one million responses it got in the consultation, the telecom operators on Sunday claimed support of over four million Indian mobile users in its own week-long survey to allow them a level-playing field with the net-based services like Skype and WhatsApp. The survey titled ‘Sabka Internet, Sabka Vikas’was carried out by their apex body, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

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