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OTTs and TSPs need to work together to advance Digital India goals, says BIF

April 07, 2019
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According to Broadband India Forum (BIF), there is an urgent need to further enhance the symbiotic relationship between over the top (OTT) players and telecom service providers (TSPs). Further, TSPs need to be provided regulatory relief so that they operate in a win-win ecosystem.

“Just as mobile transformed India, OTT is the next dimension of change. OTT services have added to the GDP of the country as well as to the productivity of people. This is in addition to the other benefits that they deliver to the TSPs at a time when their revenue from voice is zero. OTT is a very powerful and necessary lever for TSPs and ISPs as revenue generators. TSPs must be provided relief from excessive levies and taxes to ensure that they’re healthy. TSPs create a value for whole of economy and hence their financial health is important for the whole of Indian economy to grow and prosper. Thus, there is a need to create an ecosystem that is a win-win for them and all other stakeholders in their ecosystem. Also, OTTs do not fall under the Telegraph Act. In conclusion, I would say that both need to work together to advance Digital India’s goals.” said TV Ramachandran, President, BIF.

BIF, an independent policy forum and think-tank, recently held an event on the theme of ‘Regulation and Substitutability of OTT Services with Telecom Services’. At the event, Yaduvendra Mathur, Special Secretary, NITI Aayog stated, “We believe that there is much that both OTTs and TSPs have to gain from each other. There is a strong case for an even stronger relationship between them to emerge given the continued and exponential consumption of data in India at the lowest rates globally. In the short term there will be some pain for the TSPs and there needs to be a mechanism to address this. One of the other issues that needs to be addressed is the democratization of hotspots across the country. We need to provide our rural population an even greater immersive experience via their smartphones – across not just entertainment but also health, education and a range of other services.”

According to Analysis Mason, from 2014-17, OTTs have invested over US$ 300 billion in hosting, transport and delivery infrastructure. Their average annual investments have more than doubled since 2011-13 – growing from US$ 29.6 Billion to US$ 69.7 Billion in 2014-17. While North America accounted for the largest regional share of OTT investments from 2017-17 followed by Asia-Pac and Europe. Asia pacific with close to 3X growth is driving higher demand and higher investments as compared to Europe, LatAm & the MEA.

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