In a major relief to over-the-top (OTT) communication platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter etc. the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has ruled out regulations to bind them for now.
The TRAI in its recommendations submitted to the telecommunication (DoT) on Monday, said market forces may be allowed to respond to the situation without prescribing any regulatory intervention. However developments shall be monitored and intervention as necessary shall be one at appropriate time.
Existing laws and regulations prescribed presently are sufficient for now, the telecom watchdog said.
“It can be looked into afresh when more clarity emerges in international jurisdiction particularly the study undertaken by International telecommunication union (ITU)”, TRAI recommended.
Earlier, Department of Telecommunications (DOT) in March 2016 had sought the recommendations of TRAI on net neutrality including traffic management and economic, security and privacy aspects of OTT services, apart from other relevant standpoints as covered in the consultation paper.
The authority has already issued recommendations or regulations pertaining to ‘prohibition of discriminatory tariffs for data services. Regulatory framework for internet telephony, ‘net neutrality’, ‘privacy security’ and ‘ownership of data’ in the telecom sector.
In arriving at these recommendations on the residual issue i.e. regulatory framework for over-the-top (OTT) communication services, TRAI issued a consultation paper on 12th November 2018 and raised various issues like similarity and substitutability of TSP and OTT services.
Regulatory Imbalance and Non-Level playing field between TSP and OTT service providers Economic aspects Interoperability, Lawful interception of OTT services and Access of emergency services from OTT etc for comments and counter comments from stakeholders.
Two open house discussions (OHDs) were also held, one at Bangalore on 24th April 2019 and another one at Delhi 20th May 2019, where stakeholders participated and deliberated on the issues.
The OTT services include the media over the internet, video and audio delivered by the providers through different applications.
With the recommendation of the TRAI, the prolonged discussion of, ‘one service, one rule’, which was demanded by a number of service providers back in the years 2015 and 2016 last.
However, a section of the associations representing digital applications from IAMAI, Nasscom, US-India Business Council among others has opposed the demand of framing of regulatory services.