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Data traffic in India cools scope of OTT consultation

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to reduce the scope of consultation for the proposed regulatory framework for over the top (OTT) platforms such as WhatsApp and Skype, according to a report by Live Mint. “Telecom operators, who once cried foul over the regulatory imbalance, are now seeing rising data consumption on their networks because of such apps, according to the regulator. This may result in less regulation on such apps than previously demanded. Telecom operators had alleged a non-level playing field, as operators were subjected to regulatory levies and licensing conditions, while these apps were not.”  A senior TRAI official, requesting anonymity, said: “We have already issued recommendations on net neutrality and previously on differential pricing. Now, very few issues are left with respect to OTT. We have to look at regulatory imbalance (with respect to telecom operators). But telecom operators themselves are saying that OTTs are helping data consumption.” This will be the second time that the regulator will seek views on regulating OTT players. In March 2015, it had floated a consultation paper on whether over-the-top players offering voice, messaging and video call services through applications, should be brought under the licensing regime, and whether OTT growth was affecting the traditional revenue stream of operators, among other issues. “At that time, however, revenue from voice calls accounted for a relatively larger share of a telecom operator’s revenue. Things changed after the September 2016 entry of Reliance Jio, which offered free voice calls and cheap data, forcing operators to match its offerings.” Voice continues to be an important source of revenue, but operators are now focusing more on data. “Operators are now happy that data consumption is happening through WhatsApp. WhatsApp calls ride on data and cost very little in terms of data usage. In any case, most telecom operators are giving unlimited free voice calls. So the arbitrage opportunities are reducing day by day,” said the TRAI official. Read more

  • Tuesday, 25 September 2018

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