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Either Regulate WhatsApp Like OTTs Or Relax Telcos’ Regulatory Burden, Says COAI

Demands ‘same service, same rules’ for communication and OTTS’s that use high bandwidth, seeking clarity on OTTs’ definition

What’s the news? Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a body representing telcos Jio, Airtel and Vi, said on Tuesday that if communication OTTs (like WhatsApp, Zoom) and “OTTs consuming humongous bandwidth are not brought under an appropriate regulatory regime, then the license conditions and regulatory obligations for the TSPs (Telecom Service Providers) should be equally relaxed”. They also said, “Regulation on communications OTTs as well as OTTs consuming humongous bandwidth is a necessity. There is a need to ensure a level-playing field among all technologies, i.e., same service, same rules with respect to OTT communication services, so that a fair and healthy competition prevails in the industry.” It went on to add that “The industry welcomes adoption of new technologies and services by various players in the ecosystem; however, regulatory conditions and treatment must be made uniformly applicable for similarly placed players.” COAI’s reasoning behind this comment: COAI argued that telecom service providers have to go through a government-mandated process for the allocation of spectrum, invest heavily in infrastructure and undertake critical commitments in terms of deliverables defined by a license agreement to operate but OTTs deliver the same services without fulfilling such obligations. “OTT players gain massive direct/indirect benefits without incurring any additional costs. Thus, it would be all the more fitting that they contribute towards the cost of this infrastructure development, which is presently borne by the TSPs alone,” COAI said.  COAI seeks more clarity: The industry body welcomed the Draft Indian Telecommunications Bill 2022 released last…

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