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COAI Seeks Regulation Of ‘Communication OTTs’, Not All OTTs: S P Kochhar on the Draft Telecom Bill

We interview SP Kochar, Director General of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) for his take on regulating OTT services on par with telcos

The Director General at the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), S P Kochhar weighed in with his thoughts on how over-the-top (OTT) platforms should be regulated in India in an interview with Medianama. This is a heavily contested issue, especially in light of the recently released Draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022 which brings several OTT services under the ambit of regulations by the telecom ministry, in addition to a potential licensing framework. Telcos have long advocated that platforms such as WhatsApp and Zoom be regulated like telecom service providers like Jio and Airtel, as they believe that all of them offer the same kind of services – video calls, voice calls and messaging. Needless to say, OTT platforms have spoken against this, arguing that this will hinder innovation and impact the privacy of users. S P Kochhar, representing COAI, whose core members are Jio, Airtel and Vi, supported this convergence and shared his thoughts on other aspects of regulating OTTs. Here are the highlights and excerpts from the interview: 'Same service same rules' needed as communication OTTs and telcos offer the same services. Only want communication OTT platforms to be regulated, not all OTT platforms. Not seeking regulation of content or one-way broadcasting services. Government should define what OTT communication services mean. Seek regulation of two-way communication services, not one-way communication services. OTT communication platforms should share a part of their revenue with telcos. Telcos are subject to IT rules, banking regulations as well. Government should reimburse for costs incurred…

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I cover privacy, surveillance and tech policy. In my reporting, I try my best to present the most relevant facts, and sometimes add in a pinch of my thoughts.

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