By Amrita Choudhury Once again, the argument made by telecom providers that over the top (OTT) service providers should contribute towards infrastructure costs has resurfaced. This is not a new demand but one which the telecom operators have been lobbying for several years. In India, telecom operators have been intensely pushing for OTTs to share the network cost especially with the roll out of 5G. As a result, we saw the draft Telecom Bill proposing licensing of OTTs and attempting to define them as telecom service. Recently it was reported that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has mandated the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to explore how OTTs can be regulated like the telecom operators in order to create a level playing field, and that the TRAI will come out with a consultation paper proposing some form of revenue-sharing mechanism between OTTs and the telcos. COAI - the Telecom operators association has intensified their demand suggesting that OTTs should pay telcos a "usage charge" for actual traffic being carried and has stated that network usage charges in no way affects net neutrality. This comes following the announcement of the twelve weeks' consultation in the European Union on the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure in Europe, that is exploring if OTTs should be paying money toward network costs of telcos and discusses ‘fair contribution by all digital players’. Subsequently, there have been reports that the DoT would be arranging a meeting between Telcos and OTTs to…
A shared and open internet vs. ‘exclusive gardens’: Imposing ‘network costs’ on OTTs a bad idea?
Charging OTT companies a ‘network fee’ can have fallouts like raising entry barriers for new players and increasing costs for consumers
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