“Regulators like RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, etc. have created a virtuous framework in their respective sectors, that allows innovation and the growth of OTTs/online players while simultaneously ensuring legal & regulatory oversight without disrupting the level playing field. In contrast, thus far, no regulations have been drawn up for OTTs operating in the telecommunications and broadcasting sector,” Bharti Airtel states in its submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) consultation paper on the regulation and selective banning of Over the Top (OTT) communication platforms. The company says that a lack of regulatory oversight has led to a non-level playing field between them and traditional telecom operators. Airtel and other major telecom operators in the country support the regulation of communication platforms and argue that since telcos and communication platforms offer the same services, the same rules should be applied to them. Some context: TRAI’s consultation paper on the regulation of OTT communication services and selective banning of apps focused on the following broad themes— Licensing and regulatory requirements for OTTs. Revenue share agreements between OTTs and telcos. The selective banning of OTT services in periods of unrest. This story focuses on telecom companies' responses to the question of licensing OTT services. Defining an OTT communication platform: Airtel: It says that ‘OTT services’ is a blanket term, and as such, “it would not be prudent to apply one blanket set of rules and regulations to several different kinds of OTT services.” It explains that when categorizing platforms for regulation, the…
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