Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a Consultation Paper on Regulatory Mechanism for Over-The-Top (OTT) Communication Services, and Selective Banning of OTT Services.
It is a move that has been due for long time. As the people around the country and the television broadcasters are requesting a proper mechanism for regulating the OTT platforms.
Thus to have a systematic content available to the public it has been decided by TRAI and DOT (Department of Telecommunication) to produce a proper guidlines.
In accordance with the requirement the new Consultation paper is launched for arriving conclusion. Also the paper gives opportunity for the stake holders and public to give their opinion on the matter.
Need for Regulation of OTT in India
Acccording to TRAI OTT platform app is an “application accessed and delivered over the public Internet that may be a direct technical/ functional substitute for traditional international telecommunication services.”
Thus OTT platform does not means the apps only streaming videos. It also includes the apps used for telecommunications like Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook, etc.
With the internet usage booming in the past decade, there has been numerous apps that has been introduced in the recent times.
Among these we have seen a lot of Social Media, Video and Audio Streaming apps.
But there is no regulatory intervention by Government and TRAI on what type of content is provided through this apps.
Thus it became imperative to create an effective system for content management in these apps. But since there is no regulatory framework for the same this consultation paper is required for the ideas from public.
Factors Covered on Consultation Paper
The current consultation paper covers two important factors regarding functioning of OTT platforms.
- Regulatory Mechanism for OTT Platforms
- Selective Banning of OTT apps
1. Regulatory Mechanism for OTT Platforms
In recent times we have seen a major shift from the conventional voice calling and SMS to the OTT Platform communication.
But this change is not an unforeseen one and with the advent of Internet data usage it is imminent.
In the past the Regulatory framework for OTT is avoided so as to encourage the new entrants to the marker. But now the market is matured, the Over-The-Top Platform industry has grow immensely.
Thus TRAI believes that this is the right time for bringing these platform under regulation.
The following key areas have been identified for regulation under this consultation paper.
- Lawfull Interception
- Privacy and Security
- Emergency Services
- Unsolicited Commercial Communication
- Quality of Service
- Customer Verification
- Consumer Grievance Redressal
- Other Aspects not specified above.
The stakeholders are asked to review the platforms on the above said topics. And the challenges faced by OTT and remedies for the same.
2. Selective Banning of OTT apps
Selective Banning of OTT platforms enables the Regulator to Bann apps on a specific Geography/ Duration in the country.
This selective Banning is necessary in the critical areas of the country like in the areas used by terrorist/ anti-social elements.
But there is a limitation to this idea as the cloud computing and Virtual Networks are masking the location of the user.
Thus the consultation paper request ideas for selective banning of apps, website and Internet of things with out affecting the public.
The consultation paper raises many queries and requests answer from the stakeholders. And we herewith provide some of the important question covered on this paper.
- What should be the definition of over-the-top services?
- What could be the reasonable classification of OTT services?
- Whether there is a need to bring OTT communication services under any licensing/regulatory framework?
- What are the technical challenges in selective banning of specific OTT services and websites in specific regions of the country for a specific period?
- Whether there is a need to selectively ban specific websites apart from OTT services to meet the purposes?
With the consultation paper put in place, the regulator namely TRAI and DOT are trying to bring the all the OTT platforms to bring under the regulatory umbrella.
But doing it so should not affect the public and the business sector of the country. Furthermore the regulation is necessary as in any sector without a regulation there will be chaos in the market.
The consultation paper is open till 04 August, 2023 and the stakeholders can give their claim on the same.