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On contradictory reports on TRAI consultation on Internet Services Regulation

Update: An August 20th story by PTI indicates that the consultation paper will be released. Further discredits the ET story. We haven’t heard back from TRAI yet. (hat tip: Amlan Mohanty)

Yesterday: Over the past few days, we’ve received mails and messages from our readers, inquiring about why we haven’t written about the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India reportedly deciding to shelve plans for a Consultation Paper on a regulatory framework for Internet Services in India.

The consultation would look into a situation where Internet service providers will have to pay telecom operators for being made available to consumers. There is a paper from the Cellular Operators Association of India doing the rounds, which is apparently private.

There are two contradictory newspaper reports on this apparent planning to shelve the consultation paper:

1. On August 18th 2014, the Indian Express quoted the TRAI Chairman as saying that a consultation paper is being planned:

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However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has conceded to a “consultation paper” on regulating apps. “The consultation paper will test the ground to see how grave the problem is,” Khullar said, adding that it will only be released after preliminary discussions with all stakeholders. He also acknowledged that telcos have a “valid” concern regarding loss of revenue.

2. On August 19th, the Economic Times quoted an unnamed TRAI official as saying that:

‘”There is no proposal for a consultation paper (on regulating companies offering free messaging and calling services),” he added.’

Since some of you (our readers) asked: a rejection of this proposal to regulate Internet services isn’t official yet, and on the face of it, we believe what a named source told the Financial Express more than what an unnamed source told The Economic Times. It’s hard to imagine that this was an overnight decision. The fact that the named source that Financial Express has quoted is the TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar lends further credibility to the notion that there will be a consultation paper from the TRAI on the regulation of Internet services.

Nevertheless, we have written to the TRAI execs – Robert Ravi, Thomas Varghese and SK Gupta – who had organised the seminar a few weeks ago, to clarify whether a consultation paper has been planned, pointing out these two contradictory news reports.


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We’ll update in case they respond.

You might want to read our extensive coverage of this issue (Tag: TRAI Internet Regulation):

TRAI Chairman: Telco’s & Internet co’s need to find models of working together without destroying value
Other comments from the TRAI’s Internet Services regulation seminar
Telcos didn’t want to raise rev-share, b2b issues for mobile VAS, so why for Internet services? – Subho Ray, President, IAMAI
“A municipal water supplier does not decide what kind of Cola you drink” – One97 MD Vijay Shekhar Sharma on Telco’s vs Internet
You ambushed each other, and now you’re trying to get someone else to save you – Venky Nishtala, CTO, Rediff
Mahesh Uppal: Bring telecom operators on par with OTT providers
Reliance Communications’ CS Rao: Telecom Operators & Internet services need to share revenues
Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama: If the consumer has a difficulty in paying for the data, we’re happy to come in and subsidise that data

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