No need to regulate OTT players for now: TRAI

Decision panned by telcos which have been demanding a regulatory framework for OTTs which they say eat into their revenues through offers of free voice calls and text services

The TRAI's decision would benefit apps like Google, Facebook and WhatsApp which will have fewer restrictions. Photo: iStock

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has ruled out the need to regulate over-the-top (OTT) communication services, which include apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, and Viber, saying this isn’t the right time to come up with any comprehensive regulatory framework on the front.

“It is not an opportune moment to recommend a comprehensive regulatory framework for various aspects of services referred to as OTT services, beyond the extant laws and regulations prescribed presently,” TRAI said in its recommendations on the regulation of communication apps, on Monday (September 14).

The telecom regulator, however, said that the market developments of the OTT services need to be monitored.

TRAI’s decision is a relief to the said apps and an equal disappointment for telcos which have been demanding regulation for OTTs, which they say through their offers of free voice and text services, eat into the revenues of telecommunication companies.

According to Reuters, while the decision has been welcomed by net neutrality activists, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said that the regulator has not addressed issued such as regulatory imbalance and non-level playing field between telecom service providers and OTT players.

“Without a resolution of these issues, TSPs will continue to be at a disadvantageous position vis-a-vis OTT Communication Service Providers,” COAI director general SP Kochhar said in a statement.

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