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TRAI to begin consultation on OTT regulations soon

November 29, 2017

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will begin a separate consultation process on questions relating to regulation of over-the-top (OTT) players like Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook among others, including OTT communication services which will look into the costs and benefits of regulatory intervention in this sector. The regulator's decision to rekindle the OTT discussion came on the day of issuing recommendations on net neutrality, on the grounds of the fast evolving nature of the sector and the changes that have taken place in the regulatory and policy framework since it first began the consultation back in March 2015.

This work will build on the information collected by the TRAI in the prior consultations and include an investigation into questions relating to the potential market failures in the OTT segment, the appropriate tools to address those failures and the costs and benefits of any possible regulatory interventions. TRAI added that the inputs received in response to the March 2015 consultation paper will also be considered while examining these issues.

Meanwhile, communication apps have stated that any move to regulate them will only stifle innovation. Besides, they pointed that consumers pay data charges for using the OTT platform, which compensates for the loss of revenue through traditional sources.

However, telecom companies have long argued that OTT communication apps should be brought under the same rules that bind them because they offer the same calling services that they do. Communication apps allow users to make calls free or at much lower rates than carriers, mostly the consumer pays only for data consumed which eats into the operators ‘revenue. Voice still accounts for about 80 per cent of its revenue. Moreover, telecom operators want these apps to pay the same levies that they do, such as licence fee and spectrum charges, besides requiring them to follow rules on security, lawful interception and quality of service (QoS).

 

 
 

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