The regulation of over-the-top (OTT) communication services is of utmost importance considering the aspects of consumer protection, data privacy, quality of services, and more. Recently, the regulation of OTT communication services and allotment of satellite spectrum have become two major industry issues which has divided telecom operators and big tech companies, according to a report by Financial Express.
As per the report, both of these issues will not be resolving soon as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is without a regular chairman for more than a month, as the former chairman, PD Vagehla’s tenure ended on September 30, 2023. Notably, the regulatory body has to submit its recommendation on the same to the government, however, without a chairman it is not possible.
“Sources said that it is unlikely that in the absence of a new chairman, the regulator will finalise its recommendations. Further, a new chairman once appointed will take time in getting familiarised with the issues so the possibility of firming up the recommendations is very remote, at least by this year-end,” Financial Express stated.
How it is dividing telecom operators and big tech companies
Two of the major telecom giants- Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea eagerly want the spectrum auction to happen as the delay in finalising the position on allocation will have an impact on the roll out satellite-based broadband services.
However operators like Bharti Enterprises is not in a favour for the spectrum auction to happen. Similarly, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon are also against any auctions and want administrative allocation of spectrum as it is different from airwaves uses for mobile services, as per the report.
Telecom operators and OTT communication players are also of different openion over the issue of bringing the latter under some form of regulation. Telecom companies want the principle of same service, same rules, to apply and bring OTT under regulation, tech firms like Google, Meta, Telegram, among others are opposing the same.
Around 129 startup founders including Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Zerodha’s Nithin Kamath, PhonePe’s Sameer Nigam, and Razorpay’s Harshil Mathur, in the month of October 2023 requested TRAI to not to accept any demand on charging network fees from OTT apps or specify any sort of revenue sharing mechanism between OTT and telcos as the move will affect the net neutrality principles that were outlined by the government in 2016 as well as lead to over-regulation of Internet services.