Telecom operators are bound by their licensing conditions to ensure that internet traffic remains non-discriminatory, said DoT
In July 2023, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper on regulating over-the-top (OTT) communication apps within the country
Earlier, Telcos have also raised concerns that the rise of OTT apps has impacted their revenues
Amid the ongoing debate over net neutrality, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought to reassure internet service providers and over-the-top (OTT) platforms that they need not be overly concerned.
According to an ET report, the DoT has stated that telecom operators are bound by their licensing conditions to ensure that internet traffic remains non-discriminatory.
DoT officials further clarified that, while the government has yet to make a decision regarding revenue sharing between telecom operators (telcos) and OTT players, any future mechanism would not jeopardise net neutrality.
In July 2023, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper on regulating over-the-top (OTT) communication apps within the country. Key points from the paper include the consideration of selectively banning OTT communication apps like WhatsApp (owned by Meta), Telegram, and Google Meet, as well as the lawful interception of messages by authorities.
Telcos have raised concerns that the rise of OTT apps has impacted their revenues. Prior to the entry of Reliance Jio into the telecom market in 2016, voice calls and messaging were major revenue sources for these companies. OTT communication apps utilize telcos’ internet services to offer free calls and messaging, which were previously chargeable by the operators.
Critics argue that the proposals put forward by the telecom service providers (TSPs) would undermine net neutrality principles. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), an industry body, stated that any collaborative framework leading to a revenue-sharing arrangement between OTTs and TSPs would violate the net neutrality framework established by the Ministry of Communications in 2018.
In response to these concerns, more than 100 Indian startups, including Paytm, PhonePe, and Zerodha, have strongly opposed subjecting internet services to the same regulatory framework as TSPs. They emphasised the structural and functional distinctions between TSPs and internet service providers, asserting that regulatory intervention is unnecessary in this regard.