Indian Regulator Invites Views To Regulate WhatsApp, Viber, Other OTT Services: Update
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is all set to come out with a guideline for over-the-top (OTT) services. TRAI has announced that it has made the initiative for preparing a framework for over-the-top (OTT) services like WhatsApp, Viber and others..
Several OTT services in the country have hundreds of millions of users among them. WhatsApp alone has as many as close to 80 million regular users and the number of its users is multiplying pretty fast.
After several days of leaks and rumors that were doing the rounds in the media and the social media, TRAI came out openly about its plan. â€œWorldwide, there is an ongoing debate among governments, industry and consumers regarding regulations of OTT services and net-neutrality. In this background, Trai today released a consultation paper on regulatory framework for OTT servicesâ€, the national telecom regulator said in a statement.
It is needless to say that many telecom operators have been talking about charging free online calling facility being extended to many mobile messaging services. WhatsApp too has started providing free call facility to its users. Airtel, a few weeks ago, had announced to charge hefty amount for such use. But later it withdrew but asked TRAI to take action on it.
TRAIâ€™s consultation paper said, â€œToday, users can directly access these applications online from any place, at any time, using a variety of internet connected consumer devices. It is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to know if there is an economic difference in connecting various networks via a landline phone, cell phone, or a computerâ€¦They are also not involved in planning, selling, or enabling OTT apps. On the other hand, OTT providers make use of the TSPs’ infrastructure to reach their customers and offer products/services that not only make money for them but also compete with the traditional services offered by TSPsâ€.