TRAI seeks comments on regulatory framework for OTT services

TRAI notes the growth of OTT services in the country but points out a need for huge investments in network up-gradation by the telecom service providers.

By Kul Bhushan Published Date
31 - Mar - 2015
| Last Updated
31 - Mar - 2015
TRAI seeks comments on regulatory framework for OTT services

The telecom regulator has moved further towards regulating OTT services – a long demand of telecom operators, though many deem it as an attempt to breach net neutrality. The TRAI has now released a consultation paper for regulatory framework for over the top services. The regulator has sought responses from the industry stakeholders by April 24.

"This consultation paper covers the views of the service providers and OTT providers, all related issues (including network neutrality), international experience with network neutrality and regulation of OTTs (communications and non-communications)," says the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

"Telecom service providers (TSPs) offering fixed and mobile telephony are currently being overwhelmed by online content, known as over-the-top (OTT) applications and services," it adds.

The regulatory boded noted that growth of smartphones and upgradation of access networks by the service providers have helped OTT growth in the country.

"Paradoxically, the broadband networks provided by incumbent TSPs are used as a platform by the OTT players for the development of new businesses. The growth of traffic apart, the OTT applications have created an increasing demand for faster broadband speed, which translates into a need for huge investments in network up-gradation by the TSPs," it said.

Telecom operators have long demanded the regulatory body that the OTT players should share revenues. Some have even advocated charging for using some of OTT services, especially voice calls over data.

Recently a telecom department (DoT) panel held a meeting to discuss policy for the net neutrality in India. The panel is responsible for examining net neutrality from a public policy perspective.

Leading teleocm operating Airtel had triggered a new debate over the net neutrality when it announced charging for VoIP data. Later, the operator withdraw proposed launch of VoIP packs.

Vodafone, another telecom giant, recently sought a level playing field with OTT players such as WhatsApp, Viber, Hike and Facebook.

Source: TRAI (pdf)