TRAI Mulls over the Idea Of Floating a Discussion Paper on OTT Services

The news would hardly grab any eyeballs if I say India is one of the top five smartphone-based OTT markets in the world. The list features nations like China, US, Brazil and Germany which together account for about 67% of global user base.

As such services like WhatsApp, Line, Viber have readily gained acceptance among teenagers and successfully expanded their user base in a short span of time.

So much that, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has planned to float a discussion paper on the Over the Top (OTT) services.

The regulator tries to convince, the purpose of the paper is to understand the trend and gauge the impact of OTT Services on the industry since apps providers are becoming increasingly popular just by running on telecom bandwidth while not being connected to the telecom industry, which TRAI regulates.

Telecom operators have been insisting that the apps are affecting their revenue. As such, they are pressing for the demand that TRAI should regulate Internet-based services which it did not in the earlier past.

The Economic Times quotes a senior official at TRAI,

“We want to understand what direction it will take in the future, what are the concerns of telecom operators and consumers, and if there are any security threats. The official further added the regulator will also take stock of issues faced by operators with regards to bandwidth usage by OTT players and other Internet companies without sharing revenues earned.

“A free-rider problem isn’t good news for any industry because it curtails, in the long term, the ability of the industry to invest,” said a top executive of a leading Indian carrier. He further added,

“The return on the capital employed in the Indian telecom industry is not great, therefore we can’t afford free riders. Every participant in the ecosystem needs to contribute to keep that ecosystem healthy.”

The community (Telecom operators), globally have been flipping through ways to levy a fee on over -the-top companies as increasing apps usage is hurting their revenue from voice and messaging services, while also putting pressure on their networks. Are they justified in demanding a share form the revenue? Let us know your comments.

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