No regulatory framework needed for OTT players, says TRAI

No regulatory framework needed for OTT players, says TRAI
Photo Credit: Reuters
15 Sep, 2020

In a relief to over-the-top (OTT) communication services providers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said that the industry does not currently require any regulatory intervention.

The decision comes at a time when telecom companies have lobbied to regulate apps that offer free text and voice services, such as WhatsApp, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, Apple Facetime and Skype. These platforms offer services similar to those of telecom companies without the licencing obligations.

In its recommendations, TRAI said that market forces may be allowed to respond to the situation without prescribing any regulatory intervention. 

“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 a statement.

However, developments in the sector will be monitored and interventions made at appropriate times, it said.

“It may be looked into afresh when more clarity emerges in international jurisdictions, particularly the study undertaken by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union),” it said.

Additionally, no regulatory intervention is necessary for issues related to privacy and security of OTT services either, the telecom industry watchdog said.

In November 2018, TRAI released a discussion paper and sought the industry view on similarity and substitutability of telecom players and OTT service providers, regulatory imbalance and non-level playing field.