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Telecoms operators urge TRAI to bring OTT communication platforms under regulatory purview

Photo Collage The Hans India

*Telecoms operators, including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea have urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to bring Over-the-Top (OTT) communication players under the similar regulatory ambit in the country’s ecosystem

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Telecom operators, including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have once again made case for a strong pitch for regulation of the Over-the-Top (OTT) communication players in a recent ‘informal discussion’ with PD Vaghela, Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) .

ConsumerConnect reports the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, with the headquarters in New Delhi, is a regulatory body set up by the Government of India under Section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.

It is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in the country’s ecosystem.

The TRAI recently held an “informal consultation” to discuss sectorial issues, such as communication over-the-top (OTT) regulation with telecom carriers and ecosystem players, ETtech report said.

PD Vaghela, Chairman of TRAI, was quoted to have said: “In an informal discussion, we talked broadly on matters such as OTT regulation, flexible use of satellite communication (satcom spectrum) and Universal Service Obligation Fund levy.”

Vaghela also stated that operators sought application of ‘same service, same rules’ while asking to bring OTT players under the regulatory ambit.

The participants included representatives from Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Tata Communications, Tata Teleservices and Tejas Networks, report noted.

It is stated that the industry has long been demanding a level-playing-field with communications OTTs, emphasising that regulatory conditions and licence treatment must be made uniformly applicable for similarly placed players in the country’s telecoms ecosystem.

Who are OTT players?

ConsumerConnect reports the OTT communication services include the likes of WhatsApp, Signal, Google Meet, Telegram and other similar apps in the technology space.

It was gathered, these companies, however, oppose the move to be included under telecoms laws in India.

According to the tech  firms, they are already regulated by the Information Technology Act and further regulation will stifle innovation.

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