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More regulations on the anvil for OTT players

Trai's recommendations are likely to increase the tension between OTT players and telecom service providers

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Nov 17, 2018 07:01:25 PM IST
Updated: Nov 17, 2018 07:09:07 PM IST

More regulations on the anvil for OTT playersImage: Shutterstock
A surge in smartphone sales and a robust internet mobile internet ecosystem have resulted in a thriving over the top (OTT) segment in the country. OTT refers to content that rides over-the-top of the telecom networks of the telecom service providers (TSP).
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has decided to analyse the need for further regulation of OTT companies. It has even released a consultation paper ahead of making its recommendations to the telecom ministry.

The objective of the paper is “to analyse and discuss the implications of the growth of OTTs; the relationship between OTT players and TSPs; the similarity, if any, between services provided by the TSPs and OTT players; changes that may be required in the current regulatory framework to govern these entities; and the manner in which such changes should be effected”, Trai said in a press release.

So far, regulations, which have been around net neutrality and data tariffs—establishing content can’t be selectively throttled—have made India among the most “progressive” markets in which internet businesses could thrive, says Jayanth Kolla, founder and partner at internet and telecom consultancy Convergence Catalyst.

In the last few years, OTT players have become more important and consumer facing than telecom companies. As a result, they risk being reduced to infrastructure providers, says Kolla. This tension between TSPs and the OTT players is playing out in other markets too. For example, in Indonesia, the four largest TSPs banded together to force some of the larger OTT companies to the negotiating table, he says.

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