Over-the-top (OTT) service providers should not be subject to fresh regulations since they are not comparable to the services offered by telecom operators, said TV Ramachandran, Broadband India Forum (BIF) President, reports PTI.

Privileges enjoyed by telecom service providers include the right of way, interference-free spectrum, interconnection and numbering, said Ramachandran. These services are not available to OTT players. He further added that new regulatory framework for OTT players would curtail innovation.  Ramachandran said that OTT is successful because of it’s innovation and the value it gives to its end customer. He also recommended reduction of levies on telcos.

MediaNama has reached out to BIF for a comment and will update this when they respond.

According to its website, BIF functions as a policy forum and think-tank that works for the development of the broadband across the country.

The BIF President’s statement comes two weeks after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released its ‘Consultation Paper Regulatory Framework for OTT Communications Services’.  Ramachandran also added that BIF will actively participate in the consultation process. Along the side, Cellular Operators’ Association of India advocated for a “level playing field” between telcos and OTT companies. COAI believes that TRAI has raised appropriate issues in its consultation paper.

TRAI Consultation Paper

The TRAI paper notes that there is no globally accepted definition of OTT, and that OTTs offering services such as voice calls and messaging overlap with services offered by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). This, therefore, may include but would not be limited to Amazon Prime, Netflix, HotStar.

In the consultation paper, TRAI has focused on the definition, regulatory issues and economic concerns pertaining to OTT services which can be regarded the same or similar to the services provided by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). According to a statement issued by TRAI, the consultation paper is aimed at analyzing and discussing:

  • the implications of the growth of OTTs
  • the relationship between OTT players and TSPs and similarity between services provided by the TSPs and OTT players
  • changes that may be required in the current regulatory framework to govern these entities and the manner in which such changes should be effected.

Also read: #NetNeutrality: Issues with the TRAI’s consultation paper on Internet Services Licensing