The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Broadband India Forum and the Asia Internet Coalition have opposed suggestions by telecom operators that Over The Top (OTT) service providers should be licensed and regulated.
The call for regulations has gained urgency as online video streaming companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, MX Player and SonyLiv have seen massive adoption around the country helped by cheap data plans and falling smartphone prices.
On the issue Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) opened consultations on a “Regulatory Framework for Over The Top Communications Services” discussion paper in November last year, asking whether a regulatory framework was required to govern such entities.
The paper is the second one since 2015 to address the relationship between OTTs and telecom companies.
Last week , it was reported that some telecom operators such as Reliance Jio and OTT service providers such as Paytm and ShareChat are in favour of the lawful interception of messages on internet applications and services. They maintained that OTT service providers should be licensed in their response to the discussion paper.
IAMAI however said that “Identifying Rich Interaction Applications (RIAs) as comparable to telecom services is highly reductionist and unjustified,” IAMAI has said in its submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) “Moreover, digital applications are not available to those telecom subscribers who do not have access to the Internet.”
Asia Internet Coalition, a lobby group which is comprised of leading internet and technology companies such as AirBnB, Amazon, Apple, Expedia, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter said, “In seeking to create a “level playing field” between OTT providers, and legacy media and network providers, introducing rigid frameworks could stymie innovation and competition or cause irreversible consumer harms. Imposing a strict and unyielding regulatory framework based on telecommunications regulation and licensing could engender new risks.
AIC maintained that OTT service providers should not be subject to fresh regulations since they are not comparable to the services offered by telecom operators.
However ALCOA India, the principal trade association of cable television providers, broadband internet access and VAS in India, said that OTT players should register themselves with MIB for dissemination of video content and with DoT for voice, data and messaging services.
“All the prescribed laws / regulatory guidelines should be made applicable on an OTT IPTV service provider, including but not limited to cross media holding restrictions to make it a level playing field across all distribution platform operators,” ALCOA said.