TRAI rules out regulating OTT messaging players in India

TRAI, India’s telecoms regulator, on Monday said over-the-top (OTT) communication services do not currently need a regulatory framework, casting aside the threat of potential restrictions on platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Google.
Should telecoms care about OTTIndia’s telecoms operators have lobbied for regulation of apps that offer free voice and text services over the internet, arguing that such services erode their revenues.

“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,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a statement.

TRAI also said no regulatory intervention was needed on issues related to privacy and security of OTT services.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment, the Reuters report said.

Net neutrality activists welcomed the TRAI’s decision. Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said the TRAI had not addressed issues such as regulatory imbalance and non-level playing field between telecoms service providers (TSPs) and OTT communication players.

“Without a resolution of these issues TSPs will continue to be at a disadvantageous position vis-a-vis OTT Communication Service Providers,” COAI director general SP Kochhar said in a statement.

COAI represents telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio in India.