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TRAI OTT Consultation Paper: Identifying And Addressing Falling Voice Revenues Of Telcos

This is a two-part series discussing the issues raised in TRAI’s 2018 Consultation Paper on Over-The-Top Services, which seeks views on the imposition of regulatory norms on par with telecom service providers on over-the-top services. In Part I, we argue that OTT services are not responsible for the fall in revenues of the TSPs. The real issues instead need to be recognised and addressed.

The disruption created by technologies will require major regulatory transformations and the ongoing conflict between the telecom service providers and Over-The-Top or OTT services is no exception. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued yet another consultation paper on the regulation of OTT services to address this conflict, released on November 12 this year. The issue raised is yet again, on whether OTT services which compete directly with the services of a telecom service provider (TSP) should be subject to the same licensing and regulatory requirements as the TSPs.

The primary reference is to communication-based services like WhatsApp and Skype, which have created a huge dent in the revenue of the TSPs. The adoption of the ‘same service same rules’ approach through the application of traditional regulatory and licensing requirements to new age technology, however, will be a huge step backwards. Instead, the need is to overhaul existing regulations to recognise and accommodate the overwhelming potential of data services as the future. – Tech2

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