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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

We’re reporting from the TRAI seminar on regulation of OTT services (rather, Internet services). Details of why this seminar is being held, here. For context, read this and this. Please pardon the typos (and some paraphrasing).

Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama: 

“We believe that, be it the content, device or the telecom ecosystem, each is the holy grail. All three of them need to partake. This word called OTT. The word OTT means nothing in a world that it is one Internet. In terms of a consumer base, the contribution of smartphones is 20%, and the rest is feature phones. Most consumers do not have laptops. The larger charter for the Indian government is data for all. There is nothing called OTT, and separate broadband. Wifi is technically mobile internet, as is a 3g dongle. Internet is ubiquitous and it is one. Whatsapp could have been on the web as well as well.

Hungama doesn’t treat a consumer differently, whether DTH, Web or Mobile. A user is consuming audio, video, games or applications. He pays for content where he sees value. Our intent has been to provide value, and the consumer wants this content. A micro-charge platform is important: India doesn’t have a larger wallet base than a telco.

Where we see the operator coming in: there is access and they get paid for that. Be it Netflix, Spotify or any of the off deck services, getting the customer to come in and buy into the service. The consumer decides the format of consumption. It could be data bundled or non data bundled. The operator is getting his share of the data access. When we approach the telecom entities and seek for using the wallet, that’s the time there is an opportinity for us and telco to work together. That’s the opportunity for telecom operators and us to look at.

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If the consumer has a difficulty in paying for the data, we’re happy to come in and subsidise that data. It’s not just about digital content being passed, but also about carriage. Can they work with off deck service providers and content companies to create those ecosystems out there. The mobile first piece, driven by the government at large. There is a very clear definite path to ministries, education being moved into the device ecosystem. The consumption of this is only through the data pipe. It’s the Quality of Services for the Telecom companies to focus on. There is a very clear opportunity in Europe, with Spotify and others, who work with telecom companies to put out services, and it is bundled in, in terms of value creation.

NetFlix moved into the digital domain from DVD rental because the consumers moved from physical to digital. One of the biggest value erosion that has has happened is in the broadcast domain, which moved to digital. The consumer is seeking consumption on the digital domain. It is one Internet, and it is completely neutral. There is nothing called OTT. That is the application which serves the content. We’ve had browsers do the same thing. Windows 8 has gone into an app ecosystem on the web. It’s a consumer choice. We don’t make that choice. The consumer does.

It’s something that we cannot regulate. What content gets consumed, and in the framework of Security, the ISP regulation covers this. I am completely liable for what content Hungama puts out. From a security, regulatory and legal framework, we are securing content.

We have to look at the larger charter of Open Internet. How are the telecom companies are controlling that? Security framework doesn’t need to be talked about when the consumer is accessing content.

For us it’s content, technology and distribution. Content services come in from partners, access is an extremely important form of distribution. Then there is transaction, where the telecom ecosystem can play and extremely important role. You have wallets, the trust of the consumer. We need to work with that wallet, and allow consumers to pay for our services.”

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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