Net neutrality: Telecoms lock horns with OTT players

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Indian telecom operators want regulator TRAI to treat some of the OTT players as their competitors when it considers net neutrality guidelines.

COAI and AUSPI, while presenting suggestions on net neutrality to TRAI, today said OTT companies’ messaging / instant messaging and VoIP telephony are perfect substitutes of the services that are being offered by the TSPs under UASL/UL.

# Regulatory Framework for OTT players need to be prescribed.

Promulgation of similar regulatory mechanism for all providers, including OTT players regarding National Security, public order, decency and morality, protection of privacy, data protection, public safety and disaster management.

Analyzing the impact of growth in OTT on the traditional revenue stream of TSPs

Discuss whether OTT players offering communication services (voice, messaging and video call services) through applications (resident either in the country or outside) be brought under the licensing regime

Similar to the mutual commercial agreements between the DTH infrastructure providers and content providers, TSPs too should have the freedom of commercial negotiation with OTTs who are utilizing the TSPs’ network and bandwidth for delivery of its services.

Pricing model and options, i.e. bandwidth / time / website access based, to be adopted for the commercial agreement between the TSP and the OTT service provider and the same should be left to the mutual arrangement between them.

Security concerns, maintaining data records, logs etc. and ensuring security, safety and privacy of the consumer data as well as their compliance by OTT Communication players needs to be addressed. ·

Policy framework should facilitate specialized services such as M2M, remote surgery, driverless cars, IoT, etc.

The absence of a regulatory framework for OTT communications and app providers not only pose a threat to the privacy of individual users but also cause the transfer of personal information on the Internet for misuse. Therefore, there is a need to have a 12 regulatory framework for governing OTT and other app services for protecting the privacy of users.

The Government / Regulator should look at Net Neutrality, from the holistic framework of Internet Governance and focus efforts on the immediate priority towards providing data connectivity and rolling out broadband networks.

More than 80 percent of the population still does not have the benefit of broadband coverage and only 12 percent of the subscribers are availing mobile broadband services. Significant investments are required to meet the broadband targets of the nation.

Further, affordability of data services is the most critical factor and hence ‘pricing of data services’ should be left to the competitive market. Innovation and infrastructure ought to be promoted simultaneously for the growth and development, but at the same time, there should be a level playing field amongst all service providers / operators providing similar services.

Any definition of Net Neutrality in the Indian context, should consider the factors of ‘Affordability’ and ‘Proliferation of the data network, said COAI and AUSPI.