The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is working to release a revised draft of the telecommunications bill in less than a month to clear ambiguity over the definition and regulation of over-the-top (OTT) platforms, The Economic Times reported on December 9. The bill will also offer clarity over regulating content on broadcasting services such as direct-to-home (DTH). According to the report, government officials have highlighted that the revised bill will clearly state its aim to regulate only communication apps that provide the same services as telecom operators. This, they state, removes ambiguity around the category of apps to be regulated by DoT. Why is this important? The Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill introduced in September 2022 clubbed OTT platforms under the “telecommunication services” category, without clear definitions for streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and OTT communication services like WhatsApp and Signal. Now, the DoT has said that the revised bill will clearly define OTT categories and that it does not intend to regulate broadcasting content OTT services. What were the questions raised? The inclusion of OTT communication services under ‘telecommunication services’ meant that they would have to obtain a license from the government of India to operate here, under Clause 3 (2) of the bill. This condition triggered a debate about whether the DoT must regulate all OTT platforms or just the OTT communication platforms. The Internet Freedom Foundation highlighted that the creation of a licensing regime for OTT services, a move that traditional telecom service providers are in favour…
DoT to share a revised draft of the telecom bill in less than a month
The revised draft of the telecommunications bill will aim to clear ambiguity over the definition and regulation of OTT platforms.
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