According to senior officials, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) believe that network slicing, a crucial component of 5G technology, will not violate the principles of net neutrality, reported The Economic Times. They also said that the proper modifications will be made to licencing rules to permit slicing.
Major telecom companies Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have sought clarification on this issue, which is essential for providing private captive network services to businesses and for generating future 5G income. After preliminary dicussions, both internally and with industry players, DoT believes that when network operators slice the network, they won’t reduce customer speeds. The basic requirement of net neutrality regulations is to provide everyone with equal access without limiting speed.
A DoT official said on the condition of anonymity, “When required, we will amend the rules stating that slicing should not be treated as a violation of net nutrality.”
According to the official, DoT needs to modify or clarify unifying licencing (UL) to allow network slicing. The official also mentioned that when network traffic picks up speed in a few years, the restrictions might be revisited.
Network slicing is a common 5G use case which allows a single physical network to be divided into a number of virtual networks that can serve various network services. For instance, telecoms can set aside a certain amount of bandwidth for a specific service while allowing everyone else to share the remaining capacity. An industry executive described it as being similar to having a private network on a public network.
To make the most of 5G technology, which offers features like slicing of a network and giving tailored experience to an organisation, Jio and Airtel have urged authorities to review the net neutrality legislation.
Telcos requested clarification from the government because of concern that some could view this as a violation of the principle of equitable access to the internet. Operators anticipate that roughly 40 per cent of future 5G revenue will come from captive private networks.
The DoT has permitted carriers to provide captive private networks as a service to businesses through network slicing across its public network in accordance with recent regulations governing spectrum leasing. But the UL must also take that into account.
TRAI, like DoT, has also not found fault with network slicing in 5G, in its preminiary assessment, according to an official. Business Standard