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A comprehensive guide to TRAI’s discussion on OTT regulation through the ages

A guide to our coverage of the many attempts made by India’s telecom regulator to regulate OTT—from historical context to debates.

In July this year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper exploring the regulation of communication apps and platforms and the selective banning of such services during periods of unrest/crisis. The paper raises concerns about net neutrality in that it discusses the implications of charging communication platforms a “network fee” for the usage of telecom companies’ infrastructure. It also opens up the discourse around what constitutes a “communication platform” and whether the selective banning of app is more effective than a complete internet shutdown.

This was yet another entry in the many previous attempts that the authority had made to regulate OTT platforms. We have been actively covering the authority’s regulatory attempts for close to a decade. To help you understand the historical context of the regulation and make sense of the current developments, we have prepared a guide to give you a complete overview of the situation. 

1. The Consultation paper, 2023: 

  • A Summary: TRAI Releases Consultation Paper On Calling And Messaging App Regulation [Read]

2. MediaNama’s event “App bans and network fees” based on the consultation paper:

  • What Are The Technical And Regulatory Challenges In The Selective Banning Of Online Apps? [Read]
  • App Bans Over Internet Shutdowns? Experts Explore Issues Around Effectiveness, Impact, And Transparency [Read]
  • Do We Need Specific Definitions Of Services To Regulate OTT Apps? [Read]
  • Is It Fair To Charge Communication Platforms A Network Fee? [Read]
  • Should Communication Apps Contribute To The USO Fund? [Read]

3. Previous consultations and comments from stakeholders:

  • Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) Services, 2015. [Read]
  • Comments on the 2015 consultation. [Read]
  • Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-The-Top (OTT) Communication Services, 2018 [Read]
  • Comments on the 2018 consultation. [Read]

4. Our reportage on OTT regulation: 

  • A Summary: TRAI Releases Consultation Paper On Calling And Messaging App Regulation [Read]
  • TRAI Releases Consultation Paper To Define And Regulate Internet Services In India [Read]
  • Summary of TRAI’s first consultation on net neutrality, 2015. [Read
  • #NetNeutrality: TRAI Rules That Differential Pricing Will Not Be Allowed [Read]
  • TRAI Recommends Status Quo On OTT Regulation [Read]
  • Speed Up Talks On Regulation Of OTT Communication Apps: Delhi HC To TRAI [Read]
  • India’s Telecom Regulator May Come Up With Consultation Paper On OTT Services In December: Report. [Read]
  • Regulatory Framework For Online Media, Calling And Messaging? TRAI’s New Net Neutrality Pre-Consultation Paper [Read]
  • Deadline Extended For Comments: TRAI’s Paper On Regulation Of Messaging And Calling Apps [Read]
  • Indian Telecom Operators Want Government Help In Killing Net Neutrality [Read]  
  • TRAI Chairman: Telco’s & Internet Co’s Need To Find Models Of Working Together Without Destroying Value [Read]
  • TRAI Floating A Discussion Paper To Better Understand OTT Services Like WhatsApp [Read]
  • Trai likely to float discussion paper on OTT players [Read

5. Our editorials on OTT regulation:

  • Can We Expect A Neutral Consultation From The TRAI On Net Neutrality? [Read]
  • #NetNeutrality: Issues With The TRAI’s Consultation Paper On Internet Services Licensing [Read]
  • 7 Key Takeaways From The TRAI Open House In Delhi On OTT Regulation: “National Security Should Be Embedded In Everything” [Read]
  • The TRAI Has No Grounds For Recommending Regulation Of OTTs [Read]
  • #NetNeutrality: Issues With The TRAI’s Consultation Paper On Internet Services Licensing [Read]
  • TRAI Plans Consultation For Regulation Of Internet Apps And Sites In India; Our Take [Read]
  • On Contradictory Reports On TRAI Consultation On Internet Services Regulation [Read]
  • TRAI Organizing Seminar On Regulating Online Services On August 5th 2014 [Read]
  • Other Comments From The TRAI’s Internet Services Regulation Seminar [Read]

6. Our coverage of stakeholders’ comments:

  • What Telcos And Service Provider Associations Said About OTT Services In Reply To TRAI Paper [Read]
  • Reliance Jio Wants Regulation For All Internet Co’s In India, Hosting In India – TRAI OTT Consultation [Read]
  • The Regulation Of OTT Services: What Airtel, BSNL And Vodafone-Idea Said In Their Submissions [Read]
  • Want Telco-Like Regulation For OTTs: Jio’s Submission To DoT Ahead Of Draft Telecom Bill [Read]
  • The Regulation Of OTT Services: What ACTO, Hathway, And ISPAI Said In Their Submissions [Read]
  • The Regulation Of OTT Services: What Airtel, BSNL And Vodafone-Idea Said In Their Submissions [Read]
  • The Regulation Of OTT Services: What OLX, Paytm And ShareChat Said In Their Submissions. [Read]
  • The Regulation Of OTT Services: What ZEE5, ALTBalaji And STAR India Said In Their Submissions. [Read]
  • The Regulation Of OTT Services: What COAI And IIM-Ahmedabad Idea TCOE Said In Their Submissions. [Read]
  • Telcos Didn’t Want To Raise Rev-Share, B2b Issues For Mobile VAS, So Why For Internet Services? – Subho Ray, President, IAMAI [Read]
  • Mahesh Uppal: Bring Telecom Operators On Par With OTT Providers [Read]
  • India Considers Licensing Internet Content And Services By Reopening MVNO Discussions [Read]
  • Net Neutrality In India: That’s What Telcos Said [Read]
  • Reliance Communications’ CS Rao: Telecom Operators & Internet Services Need To Share Revenues [Read]
  • Enforcing Net Neutrality In India: What To Know Before TRAI’s Open House Discussion [Read
  • TRAI Plans Consultation For Regulation Of Internet Apps And Sites In India; Our Take [Read

7. MediaNama’s previous discussions on OTT regulation:

  • How Will A Licensing Regime For Online Services In Convergence Framework Create Barriers To Entry? #NAMA [Read]
  • No clarity on aspects that a converged regulator will focus on: Expert on TRAI’s Convergence Paper #NAMA [Read]
  • Will Self-Regulation By Streaming Platforms Help Curb Harmful Content? #NAMA [Read]
  • Is India’s Telecom Regulator Equipped To Deal With Issues Related To Quality Of Services? #NAMA [Read]

8. MediaNama’s previous stories on Net Neutrality

  • What Net Neutrality Is About: A Simple Explanation [Read]
  • Net Neutrality: Misconceptions And Misdirections [Read]
  • Net Neutrality: The Culprit Is The Government – Sandeep Amar [Read]
  • A Change Of Name To Free Basics Doesn’t Make Facebook’s Zero Rating Service Neutral [Read
  • Updated: A Look At The DoT Committee’s Alleged Net Neutrality Report [Read
  • Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services / Internet services and Net Neutrality [Read]
  • Abridged version of the Report on Net Neutrality and Licensing of services [Read]
  • COAI’s Net Neutrality Campaign Gets 40 Lakh Supporters; But Do They Know What They’re Supporting? [Read]
  • Net Neutrality Recommendations Get Telecom Commission Approval; Some Issues [Read
  • Comments On TRAI’s Net Neutrality Ruling On Differential Access [Read
  • Net Neutrality In India: From Rules To Enforcement — By Smriti Parsheera [Read]
  • Net Neutrality In India: Ensuring Openness Amidst The Crisis — By Smriti Parsheera [Read
  • Net Neutrality: IFF, CIS Counter Telcos’ Line On Traffic Management [Read]
  • IFF: There Are Sufficient Ways To Test Net Neutrality Violations [Read]
  • Notes From The Internet Governance Forum: Is Net Neutrality Essential Or Harmful During Disasters? [Read] 
  • Exclusive: Indian Government Rethinks Net Neutrality Committee, Cites COVID-19 Austerity [Read
  • TRAI Should Take Note Of Unreasonable Traffic Management By Telcos During The Pandemic [Read]
  • LIVE: TRAI’s Net Neutrality Open House Discussion On Traffic Management Practices [Read]
  • Exclusive: IAMAI’s New Code For Online Content Streaming Sets Up A Self-Regulatory Body, Incorporates Penalties [Read]
  • IAMAI To Seek A Consensus Position On Content Regulation From Its Digital Entertainment Committee, Following A Governing Council Meeting [Read
  • Exclusive: Lack Of Consensus And Hard Questions At IAMAI’s Meeting On Its DCCC Content Regulation Code [Read]
  • ‘No Need For Committee To Enforce Net Neutrality’: Airtel To TRAI [Read]
  • In TRAI Filing, Netflix Denies Allegation That It Throttles Video [Read]
  • Jio Argues For Industry-Led Net Neutrality Enforcement [Read]
  • India Needs Clear Net Neutrality Rules For Network Management: Barbara Van Schewick, Stanford Law Professor [Read]
  • Asia Internet Coalition Recommends Principle-Based Rules On Net Neutrality [Read]
  • Live [Closed]: TRAI Open House Discussion On OTT Regulation – Delhi [Read
  • Comments On TRAI’s Net Neutrality Ruling On Differential Access [Read]

9. Other related stories:

  • On Telecom Vs Internet In A Post WhatsApp Voice Scenario [Read]
  • Move Over Internet.Org: Airtel Launches Its Own Gateway To The Internet [Read]
  • MTS MBlaze, Tata Docomo And The Neutrality Of Wireless Internet Access In India [Read]
  • “We Are Moving Out Of Data, Moving Into Internet” – Uninor CEO On Its Facebook & Whatsapp Deal [Read]

We will update this guide with more stories on OTT regulation as our coverage grows in the future. 

Note: The guide was updated on September 1, 2023 to add more stories. 

Written By

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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