Net neutrality: ISPAI shares response to TRAI on OTT norms

ISPAI (Internet Service Providers Association of India) has shared its response to TRAI consultation paper on regulatory framework for over-the-top (OTT) services – especially Net neutrality.
TRAI: Is it too early to establish a regulatory framework for OTT services, since internet penetration is still evolving, access speeds are generally low and there is limited coverage of high-speed broadband in the country?
ISPAI: Some of the OTTs are providing services which are substitutable to the licensed telecom services. In our Opinion “Same Services Same Rule” policy should be adopted and it’s up to the Government to decide the modality.
TRAI: Is the growth of OTT impacting the traditional revenue stream of TSPs? If so, is the increase in data revenues of the TSPs sufficient to compensate for this impact?
ISPAI: As Licensed companies are paying License fees, Service Tax and other taxes on the same services, which makes services to users costly and further more adhering National Security through network also increase the cost of network.
TRAI: Should the OTT players pay for use of the TSPs network over and above data charges paid by consumers?
ISPAI: It’s up to government to decide level playing field between Licensed Players and non-licensed players.
TRAI: How can the prevailing laws and regulations be applied to OTT players.

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ISPAI: Imbalance exists in regulatory environment. While ISPs are subjected to stringent regulation / laws, OTTs gets free hand. OTTs do not need any license, don’t have to pay license fee & revenue share, they don’t need to maintain QoS, no Universal Service Obligations, no security clearances / Legal Intercept requirements, while offering similar services as ISPs.
Further, OTTs are not obliged for consumer safety, security and privacy, neither they are responsible for KYC validation and records. It’s unfavourable situation for ISPs who have made huge investments in telecom infrastructure and it further affects their capability to make future investment and upgrade its networks.
TRAI: How should the security concerns be addressed with regard to OTT players providing communication services? What security conditions such as maintaining data records, logs etc. need to be mandated for such OTT players?
ISPAI: It’s up to the Licensor, MHA and designated Security Agencies to decide on this issue in the larger interest of National Security.
TRAI: How should the OTT players offering app services ensure security, safety and privacy of the consumer?
ISPAI: We believe OTT-media should provide end users a certain level of security and privacy which is not the case today on Public internet. The consumer interests and national security should not be ignored and hence it is necessary to bring OTTs offering Communication Service under the folds of regulation as appropriate while applying Same Services Same Rule policy.
TRAI: What are your views on net-neutrality in the Indian context?
ISPAI: We advocate Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality means all internet traffic must be treated equally. Thus a TSPs/ISP must ensure that consumer has choice to access any App or website without any differential treatment. There should not be any blocking, throttling or paid preferential treatment of retail Broadband traffic by the ISPs.
TRAI: What forms of discrimination or traffic management practices are reasonable and consistent with a pragmatic approach? What should or can be permitted? Please comment with justifications.
ISPAI: It’s up to Regulator to decide in present situation.
TRAI: Should the TSPs be mandated to publish various traffic management techniques used for different OTT applications?
ISPAI: It’s up to the telecom regulator to decide in present situation.
Note: This is the highlight of the ISPAI response
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