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TRAI releases paper on OTT expanding its definition

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MUMBAI: India’s telecom and broadcast regulator TRAI today released another consultation paper on OTT services seeking to expand the definition of the sector and also the regulator’s jurisdiction over a sector hitherto “unregulated”.

“Would inter-operability among OTT services and also inter-operatability of their services with TSPs services promote competition and benefit the users? What measures may be taken, if any, to promote such competition? Please justify your answer with reasons.” Questions like these in the paper hint that the government and the regulator are looking at regulations for the OTT services that would include both audio and video services.

Earlier,    the    Authority  issued   a   consultation   paper  on    Regulatory Framework for  Over-the-top (OTT) services on  the   27th of  March, 2015, which also included questions  on  the   principles of  net neutrality, reasonableness of traffic management practices, non-price based discrimination  of  services and  transparency  requirements.  Due to the large  number   of   issues  and  their  complexity, it   became   difficult  to deliberate upon and  conclude all  of  them  together. Therefore, Authority decided to  deal with related issues in  separate parts, keeping focus on  a core  set  of issues  each time. Accordingly, the  following actions have been taken:

a. The  Authority issued regulations on  Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for  Data Services Regulations,  2016.

b. Recommendations on provisioning of free data given to Government on  19th December  2016,

c. Recommendations on  Net  Neutrality to  Government on   Nov  28,

2017.

d. Recommendations on privacy, security, and data ownership issues in the telecom sector submitted to Government on  July 16,  2018.

3.     Questions relating to the potential market failures in each segment, the appropriate tools to address those failures and the costs and benefits of any possible regulatory interventions have also been investigated.

4.  Keeping in  v1ew the fast evolving nature of the  sector,  it is also considered useful to   examine  OTI related aspects, after taking into account the changes that have taken place since March, 2015.

5.  The objective of  this Consultation Paper is to  analyse and discuss the  implications of  the  growth of  OTis;  the  relationship between OTI players and TSPs; the similarity, if any, between services provided by  the TSPs and  OTI  players;  changes  that  may be   required in the current regulatory framework to  govern these entities; and the manner in  which such changes should be  effected . While preparing this consultation paper, information collected by    the   Authority in response to previous consultations has also been used. It  may also be   noted that current consultation is not intended  to  revisit regulations  or   recommendations given  by the  Authority earlier on  OTI, which had broader implications and were  therefore concluded first following due consultation and diligence.

6.  Comments on the issues raised in the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by  10.12.2018 and counter comments, if any,  by 24.12.2018. 

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