Telecom firms want regulation of OTT players

Telecom players on Monday urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI's) to bring all Over the Top (OTT) service providers like WhatsApp and Facebook under same regulation imposed by the government on telecom companies.

Telecom players on Monday urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI's) to bring all Over the Top (OTT) service providers like WhatsApp and Facebook under same regulation imposed by the government on telecom companies.

In Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI's) open house discussion on 'regulatory framework for OTT Communications Services', the telecom operators asserted that some of the popular OTTs, offering voice and messaging services are "perfect substitutes" to services provided by telcos, and hence need to be regulated to avoid an imbalance in the sector.

However, the proponents of OTT services hit back, saying such apps are already regulated under the Information Technology Act (IT Act) and any further control would only stifle innovation and growth.

OTT services refer to applications and services that are accessible over the Internet and ride on an operator’s network. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook and Hike are some of the popular and widely-used OTT services.

Claiming they suffered a loss of revenue due to the proliferation of OTT services, the telecom firms urged the TRAI to ensure 'same service, same rules' in terms of data localisation requirements, lawful interception, maintaining call records, and other related parameters.

Last year, TRAI had issued a consultation paper to debate whether OTT players should be brought under a regulatory regime.

TRAI chairman R S Sharma said the regulator will finalise its view in a month, whether OTT services should be brought under the regulatory ambit.

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